'Running a business can come at a considerable human cost'

It was former US president Calvin Coolidge who is supposed to have said: "The business of America is business."

The same could be said now of our own little country. Over the past 30 years or so there has been an upsurge in people starting their own enterprises.

This is a personal assertion based on anecdotal evidence, what I have seen and heard, it is not based on any facts or figures, but I would wager to guess I'm right. (Anybody with evidence to the contrary please let me know).

No doubt there was always a strong entrepreneural flair among the Irish - unfortunately many people had to go abroad to fully express that flair.

There was something else that hampered the Irish entrepreneural spirit - a fear of failure. This was partly engendered by what used to be an integral part of Irish rural life; the obsession with what others said or thought about us - the old 'Oh what will the neighbours think?' syndrome.

That viewpoint is no doubt still out there but it's less evident especially among the young. It's impossible not to admire the person who goes out and, often against the 'best' advice, will push on set up a business enterprise, sometimes investing all they have - and more.

I remember in a Meath village some years ago coming across a young woman who had given up a job in the Civil Service to open up a cafe. It was a wonderful example of a person backing themselves. Now we need people like that more than ever.

You have to admire business folk who venture forth like that; their courage, their willingness to step outside the comfort zone, their chutzpah. They really do have to put their money where their mouths are, as the old saying goes.

Running a business can come at considerable human cost, as well as financial. The other week in an interview Eugene Healy MD of Trimfold Envelopes (one of the more successful enterprises based in these parts) courageously spoke out in an interview with this newspaper about the stresses and strains he endured over the years; how he would pace the floor at night as he grappled between making one decision or another.

He wanted to talk about his situation because he knows there are many other people out there wrestling with the same issues. He got help and now employs techniques such as mindfulness and breathing exercises to help him along the way. Simple yet effective ways of dealing with the pressures. He wants others to do the same.

Seldom have business people faced pressures as they do now and such advice from one who knows is invaluable.

Old Coolidge was onto something with his observation. One of my own favourites business quotes, is attributed to another American, comedian and actor Milton Berle: "If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door."

And keeping it Stateside what about Franklin D Roosevelt's memorable observation: "We've nothing to fear but fear itself."

That neatly sums up the attitude of many in business who may feel the fear but go for it anyway.

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