Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. (Steve Jobs)
When I first told my acquaintance that I wanted to open my own consultancy firm in European projects management in my home country, I have been told: “Are you crazy? Italy, a land of paperwork and taxes.” They are right, it is true: in Italy the burden of bureaucracy and taxes stifles entrepreneurship, leaving it prisoner in a cage of rules.
My peers, who would like to open up new business desist from doing so: even today, a disproportionate number of rules and formalisms are the first obstacle for those who decide to challenge the market. It is for this reason that the phenomenon of "youth entrepreneurship" has partly failed. Heralded as a miracle cure against unemployment and the opportunity to jump "on our own " in the labor market, this phenomenon got the wrong message that doing business is an easily attainable objective. But it is not: the marginal tax rate on business income in Italy is 32%, compared with a European average of 23.5% and the average tax burden on profits is 22.9% against a 12% of the rest of the European community .
For young people doing business is a challenge. And in Italy even more. This is well known by the European institutions, in particular by the DG Enterprise and Industry which has created an ad hoc program for young entrepreneurs: Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, which in the new Framework Programme Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) is called the Transfer of Business.
To use the definition of the European Commission, Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is a cross-border exchange program which gives new or aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to learn from experienced entrepreneurs running small businesses in other Participating Countries. The exchange of experience takes place during a stay with the experienced entrepreneur, which helps the new entrepreneur acquire the skills needed to run a small firm.
Europe needs to boost and stimulate an entrepreneurial culture and environment in which small firms can be created, thrive and expand. European companies should be encouraged to make full use of the opportunities offered by the European market. Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs can make a difference by:
- Increasing the number of start- ups and boosting their resilience.
- Fostering cross-border transfers of knowledge and cooperation between small firms.
- Helping small firms to innovate and go international.
- Creating jobs.
These are the exact reasons why I decided to learn how to run a micro-enterprise. I have embarked on this journey, which took me to Spain - Madrid - knowing that I am risking the certainty for the uncertainty to follow my dream.
But what I have found in RTDI is much more than I expected. During these 6 months I have learnt a lot: I have deepen the technical ability to write proposals; I have learnt something about the management of the company and the various business opportunities; how to do networking and customer management; I got further knowledge about how to treat employees and collaborators and I carried out activities aimed at creating new ideas to market and commercial information regarding the services provided by the firm, etc.
But my knowledge went far beyond the mere learning of technical work. What I understood is that great ideas and a great team, are the key for success. During this experience I have learned that, as Henry Ford was used to say: ‘Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress and working together is success’.
The main activity of my future job will be to “think about solutions”. To think about new ideas and new solutions is difficult - it is probably the hardest work - but it is the greatest added value of RTDI.
I feel lucky for that and I will always be thankful, because the passion found is a privilege that few teams have.
These months have been a positive experience for me, but in six months good and bad news could come at the same time. They all have taught me that being successful is to manage to stay calm and have fun even when things are not going well, and that you can never lose your self-confidence and teamwork.
My future experience is not going to be easy, I already know it, but as the proverb says well begun is half done and for this successful beginning I have, first of all, to thank RTDI.
Elena Zardo, 31/01/2014