Starting up is hard to do

It is tempting to see all the recent attention paid by Cabinet ministers to entrepreneurs as little more than bluster. After all, for politicians keen on a meritocratic society, buccaneering businesspeople make great heroes.

But perhaps we should not be too cynical. In the long term, we might view recent events as marking a turning point in Britain's view of business.

The reason is that attitudes are important. Sure, entrepreneurs and the venture capitalists who back them might always be calling for positive action; the latest cry is for capital gains tax to be slashed. However, a signal that risk-taking will be rewarded is perhaps not as crucial as changing attitudes or cultures.

Britain has long been proud of its position as Europe's leading entrepreneurial nation, but research published earlier this month should sound a wake- up call to anybody feeling complacent about that record.

The "Global Entrepreneurship Monitor", a survey published by Apax Ventures and carried out by the London Business School and Babson College of the US, is the first attempt to study the level of entrepreneurial activity around the world.

The good news is Britain is confirmed in its intermediate position: behind the US, Canada and Israel, but in line with Italy and ahead of France, Germany and Japan. But when it comes to seeing a business start-up as a respec-table occupation, only the Japanese score lower, while just 16 per cent of respondents feel there are good opportunities for starting a firm in the UK.

Michael Hay, of the London Business School, feels methods are improving. His says increasing numbers of MBA students are looking to start their own businesses rather than join a consultancy or take a faceless management position in a big corporation.

This change of approach needs to go much deeper. Parents should view business careers for their children as worthwhile as those in the traditional professions, and schools need to give students a more realistic view of the role of business in society.

The Prime Minister's speech to an "entrepreneur's summit" last week recognised this. He said all the right things about how fast-growth firms were creating the jobs and wealth on which the nation depended.

Sadly, coverage of the speech was distorted by Tony Blair's remark that he would like to see a bit of enterprise in the public sector, too. If the Prime Minister now decides to lie low in the wake of the furore, all the excitement generated over the past few days could be quickly lost. As the entrepreneurial community that gave him such a warm reception might say, it's time to take the risk, Tony.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum