Entrepreneurs say it's hard to get ahead in Britain

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Two-thirds of British entrepreneurs believe the UK education system holds people back from fulfilling their "ideas or dreams", while only a third of Americans feel that their education runs counter to risk-taking.

The study of 1,150 entrepreneurs across five countries, carried out by insurance specialist Hiscox, also showed that 80 per cent of German respondents feel their schools and universities discouraged them from taking risks in business.

The Hiscox survey disclosed that more than two-thirds of British businessmen believe the tax environment discourages people from wanting to set up their own businesses. The French and Germans take a similar view, but in Holland this figure fell to 48 per cent. In the US, only 40 per cent of entrepreneurs said tax put them off going it alone.

Steve Langan, UK managing director at Hiscox, said that over half of the respondents felt the economic downturn was not putting them off expansion. "The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well – most people said they were going to keep growing. In the UK, businesses are even more bullish."

The biggest issue for the French is the high level of red tape, which deters them from establishing their own firms. But in the US, nearly three-quarters of those asked said government put up no obstacles at all to people who want to set up on their own in business.

Nearly all the German and French entrepreneurs questioned agreed that finding new finance in the deepening economic climate was getting tougher, while in the US only half said that it was having any great impact.