Today’s report on micro-businesses from UCC seems counterintuitive as it records ambitions that run counter to Government policy. Micro-Businesses in Ireland: from Ambition to Innovation found that the majority of small businesses do not wish to grow. Only one in four wants to expand to become either a national or international business.
This is hardly the kind of ambition that nurtured the Celtic Tiger — and that can hardly be a bad thing. Maybe it is a case of once bitten twice shy.
Small businesses may, after hard lessons, have become more cautious, more circumspect about once-trusted, once-respected institutions. Others, especially those in the rural broadband deserts, may have cut their cloth to the measure of the online services available. This stands, though the adoption of digital technologies is strong and growing and compares well with rates in the UK and is higher than that achieved in America.
The idea of what might be called the Amazon Ceiling — if you get big enough, become successful enough, the biggest, most rapacious sharks in the world of business will target you — may have relevance too.
It may just be that the lunacies of the Celtic Tiger and the inevitable implosion had a profound cultural impact.
Maybe these businesses are content to rebalance stress and reward. Maybe they have come to realise that enough is indeed enough. If that is the case it shows that we have learned at least one very important lesson from our years of excess.