When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And when you’re an entrepreneur running a business, as I am, it can be hard to avoid viewing the world through the filter of business and commerce. While Japan is a wonderful country full of kind people who have created one of the happiest and long-lived societies in the world, it’s not without problems and challenges. One of these is the low rate of entrepreneurial spirit in Japan.
Rates of new business creation are extremely low in Japan, far below other countries. Only .15% of currently operating businesses are new startups in Japan, compared with 13%, 8% and 2.3% for the U.K., Malaysia and South Korea. There are many reasons why this might be, including:
- a strong aversion to risk and tendency to focus on the potential downside of any given situation, instead of opportunities.
- the lack of a supportive funding system for startups, though this is changing thanks to outside investment.
- a generally negative view of “creative disruption,” when companies purposely disrupt the dinosaurs of an industry and hasten their decline.
- the fact that anyone who makes a startup and fails, then re-joins a company later, will find themselves at the bottom of the corporate ladder again, potentially a 35-year-old kohai with 22 year old senpai he has to defer to.
- finally, the general tendency for people to be influenced by what others around them are doing and thinking, which is known as migi e narae, literally “get in line and do what the person to your right is doing.” If no one around you is thinking how cool it would be to make a startup, you’ll likely be affected by that general atmosphere.
There is one surprising success story in Japan’s business world: Mercari, an app for iOS and Android that makes it easy for individuals to sell clothes, handbags and just about anything else directly to others, bypassing Japan’s frustrating “recycle shop” industry which buys used goods for pennies then marks them up 1000% to resell. Mrs. J-List discovered the service a few months ago and has had loads of fun selling all my huge pre-diet clothes (there are a lot of large Japanese men who are unable to find clothes apparently), as well as her old collection of Channel handbags. Mercari achieved famed “unicorn” status (meaning a $1 billion value before going public), and their upcoming IPO is the most talked about thing in the business world these days. I wish them well! And let’s hope for improvements in the entrepreneurial spirit in Japan.
Our big news today is the announcement of preorders for our next big visual novel Trample on Schatten! It’s an awesome game that combines great characters and art with sentai style combat and gorgeous uncensored art that you will love to play. You can preorder the game now and get 10% off, and also get the digital download when it’s released!