IE Focus | By Patricia Gabaldon, Professor at IE Business School

The nanny state is telling its children it’s time they became more independent by creating their own companies and jobs.

It would appear that the Spanish state is forcing its “sons and daughters” out of the “family home”. The offspring in question actually quite like living at home and don’t mind contributing to the household budget if they know that the money will be used for the common good of the family, and they trust the system that has worked so far.

But now reality seems to be kicking in and it’s time to make their own way in life without the protection of a nanny state. Just like Tanguy in the French film of the same name, they are constantly receiving hints to ensure that they realize the Spanish state will not be there to catch them if they fall, and that they have to increasingly depend on themselves and their own means and actions. The hints are pretty clear – a medium-term reduction in unemployment benefits as from the sixth month, a reduction in civil servants’ salaries, less healthcare coverage, more restricted access to education… The Spanish welfare state is being watered down and the Spanish are gradually realizing that they cannot depend on a nanny state. The way in which these cuts will affect the Spanish labor market in the short and medium term is not yet clear, but what is clear is that working as a civil servant will no longer be an attractive career choice and that a proactive search will henceforth have to be even more proactive, if that is possible in these difficult times.In this scenario, one of the most interesting options when it comes to gaining more work independence is to become an entrepreneur. Faced with a malfunctioning labor market, becoming an entrepreneur would appear to be the only way out of the vicious circle of a fruitless job search in a country like Spain, where unemployment has reached epidemic proportions.  If we Spanish do not embrace entrepreneurship because we see a business opportunity, then we will do it of necessity. If we can’t find a job created by someone else, then we can create our own job.

Nevertheless, in order for this to happen it is also essential that the state realize that it does not have to revert to being the paternalistic figure of the past, but rather it should serve as a facilitator, a guide, an agent that helps finance channels start working, and ensures that capital gets to the right places. There should be as few bureaucratic hurdles as possible, and an infrastructure and basic ecosystem in place designed to foster business creation, including tax breaks for the first few years when money is tight. The state should act to ensure that such businesses do not remain as micro-companies, enabling them to grow and spread, producing other ecosystems, other businesses that break the cycle of job destruction.

Our creativity works in our favor, as does our capacity for innovation, adaptation, flexibility and entrepreneurial spirit, which may tend to be found in what we call the “informal economy”, but only because we want to do business without intermediaries.

It would appear that we are indeed becoming more independent and that now, we are the ones creating jobs.

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