In Praise of Entrepreneurs
As we enter 2017, and in the current post Brexit climate, much continues to be made about the importance of the private sector and SME’s in particular in driving the economy forward.
This brings the role of the entrepreneur into clear focus. Currently a record number of firms, something in excess of two million, are registered for VAT in the UK, and last year over half a million new firms were created. Almost all of those will have been entrepreneurial businesses, and those private firms and the individuals behind them really are the backbone of the economy.
What differentiates entrepreneurs from other gifted individuals is the acceptance of risk. Senior corporate individuals may be more experienced or gifted, but in the larger corporate entities, generally do not risk their own capital. Furthermore, they have the support of a strong infrastructure behind them, and usually enjoy some clear separation of private and working life.
Entrepreneurship itself is thus a culture, and a state of mind. It’s not something that can be learned. The entrepreneur’s life is radically different, the buck always stops with them and they are never off duty. They have the imagination and willingness to take a risk and persevere to see their vision through. In UK plc today, this is something that must be recognised, appreciated and nurtured, because entrepreneurs create wealth for themselves and others – and of course the government.
And yet, despite their importance, unlike big business or various professional groups, in 2017 entrepreneurs are still pretty much on their own, with less formal support other than close family or associates. It’s therefore of critical importance that the whole government support structure, including the tax regime, is conducive to entrepreneurs, and promoting growth. Britain currently still has some of the highest tax rates in Europe, and a system which is massively over-complicated. The burden of compliance and bureaucracy is also a huge negative.
Entrepreneurs must also be able to achieve a fair reward for their risk and efforts. Most entrepreneurs risk literally everything to set up their business, and commonly earn very little in those early years until success is achieved. They are also rarely recognised for the jobs and wealth they create.
In short, particularly in this post Brexit year, if UK plc really wants the private sector to drive us forward to the next “new dawn”, let’s make sure we support entrepreneurs and our SME culture!
3 February 2017