Belfast Telegraph

Expert says downturn 'a welcome mat for entrepreneurs'

By Clare Weir

The recession should not present a barrier to entrepreneurs, according to the head of a top US university.

Dr Stephen Spinelli, president of the University of Philadelphia, was on a three-day visit to Belfast this week addressing business students at the University of Ulster as well as a delegation at the Work West Enterprise Agency in west Belfast.

Dr Spinelli, a successful entrepreneur, said that the downturn should instead be viewed as a 'welcome mat'.

"As long as there are problems in the world then there are solutions and, once you think of the solution, that can be turned into a good business idea," he said.

"No matter what group of people I'm talking to, essentially the message is the same. Even if you have nothing - and I started off with nothing - resources will eventually be attracted to you if you pursue an idea with enough vigour.

"During a recession people are paralysed with fear but an economic downturn presents new problems and therefore new solutions - it's a welcome mat for entrepreneurs."

Dr Spinelli's visit was organised by the Ulster Business School's professor of marketing, Mark Durkin.

Professor Durkin warned that companies obsessing about how to engage customers through digital and social media are missing other marketing opportunities.

He was speaking to an audience of business practitioners and fellow academics, including world-renowned leadership guru David Taylor, during a professorial lecture at the Ulster Business School in Jordanstown.

"The use of digital and social media has become a holy grail for managers - they feel it is a cheap way to reach and engage their market. But the evidence that this is being done badly is self-evident when one looks at the inappropriate use of Twitter and Facebook in established firms as wide-ranging as McDonald's, Mars, Pepsi and Qantas," he said.