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Business opinion

Wolf among Sheep | When security kills


Kristian Holte is an entrepreneur who likes contrarian thinking and provocative ideas. Tackling the issues surrounding starting a business in Denmark, Kristian will share his experience of taking risks in a country where there’s really no need to. His company Qontra (qontra.dk) seeks to obviate lawyers by making law better, faster and cheaper.

August 16, 2014
06:55

by Kristian Holte


A man passes by five guys lying in the sun doing nothing. “I’ll give 10,000 kroner to the laziest one of you," he says. Four of the guys immediately jump up and showcase their impressive laziness. The fifth stays in the sun without moving. The fifth guy gets the money.

Incentive is king
People operate according to incentives. This fact is as true in the US as it is in Denmark.

“Why don’t you start a business? You’ve got nothing to lose. It’s impossible to end in the gutter. The safety net’s got you." This argument is popular in Denmark as a way of convincing somebody to become an entrepreneur.

There’s only one problem: it doesn’t work. On the surface, the argument looks plausible: there’s a definite limit as to how low you can go. Ultimately, the state will take care of you. So why not start a business since there’s nothing to lose?


Easy for a wolf to clean up in the land of the sheep (Photo: Colourbox)

Demotivated Denmark
In reality, the Danish safety net works the other way round. You’ve got every basic need covered at all times. This is hugely demotivational. If you were facing the gutter as a realistic alternative, you would be motivated to create your own future.

The Danish safety net is good in a number of ways. However, entrepreneurship is not one of them. The problem in 2014 is that Denmark needs entrepreneurship to create growth. The Danish safety net removes a vital incentive for achieving this.

A nation of sheep
When it comes to entrepreneurial risk-taking, Denmark is a nation of sheep. Generally, the required entrepreneurial aggression is missing. There are exceptions, however rare. Toke Kruse, the founder of Billy’s Billing, decided to abandon the safety net and move to Silicon Valley to maintain the vital entrepreneurial motivation.

“The safety net in Denmark flies in the face of becoming an entrepreneur," he says.

“You know that you have something to fall back on. If you find yourself on a burning platform, you get creative and find yourself willing to make sacrifices."

In Denmark, society has already taken care of your future. This security kills. It kills entrepreneurship.




Latest Comments

Why is it that danes are so afraid of criticism? Why are they so scared of...

(Kl Queteimporta on December 22, 2014 11:20)

Merry Christmas Mr. Sandal :-)

(Jens Rost on December 22, 2014 09:48)

#danishcraftsmanship

(Andreas Philip Andersen on December 21, 2014 13:27)

I had Danish citizenship and had to give it up at 21 for my Canadian...

(Tina Venema on December 21, 2014 12:52)

Yes, the huge influx of 3ed world immigrants, combined with increased loss of...

(Jens Rost on December 20, 2014 13:08)

Why use the education system when the welfare system is soooo much easier. ; )

(Alex DeGre?t on December 20, 2014 12:28)

Io l'ho provato, eccezionale!!

(Federico Lepra on December 20, 2014 12:06)

BMI is pure bullshit, favored mainly by insurance companies to deny, or...

(Alex DeGre?t on December 19, 2014 21:10)

What about the French?

(William Harvey on December 19, 2014 13:00)

I should tell my cow sister-in-law who hasn`t worked in 26 years.

(Jon Paris King on December 19, 2014 12:43)