Britain's young entrepreneurs are leading the way

Britain's young entrepreneurs are leading the way - Telegraph

Perhaps most significantly, there is an outbreak of entrepreneur fever. The Startup Britain tracker website had counted, by Friday night, 313,583 new business registrations so far this year. Of course many of these fledgling ventures won’t survive, and many of their founders have struck out on their own simply because they cannot otherwise find paid work. But that’s not the point: entrepreneurship and optimism are closely related. Young entrepreneurs are unencumbered by past failures, but if they know any history they also know that many of the world’s greatest companies (Microsoft and Apple, to name but two) emerged from small beginnings in past recessions.

Let’s not get misty-eyed here. Conditions remain formidably difficult: consumer confidence is flat and spending power is weak; credit is scarce, even with the Bank of England’s “funding for lending” scheme in place; continental export markets are blighted and it would be folly to deny the risk of renewed euro turmoil. But if you ask most business people about their markets, they say phlegmatic things such as “Not as bad as you might expect” or “Tough, but there’s work to be had if you price it right”. As a breed, entrepreneurs and business leaders are always inclined to imagine they can see the light at the end of the tunnel; the official class, by contrast, is trained to consider worst-case scenarios and more likely to think the tunnel is about to collapse. In that difference of perception lies part of the explanation for the “genuine economic puzzle” of jobs growth in a double-dip recession: employers just don’t see an economic horizon as barren as the crude GDP measure suggests. Can George Osborne do anything to improve the chances that employers are right and officials are wrong? He’s under increasing political pressure to invest for growth through debt-funded infrastructure projects – but that would be painfully slow, largely symbolic, and bad for the national balance sheet. He and David Cameron can carry on touting for foreign industrial investment, playing on the Jaguar Land Rover theme as they were doing avidly at the start of the Olympics. Or he can do everything in his power to make conditions easier – by making employment law less burdensome and reducing employers’ National Insurance contributions, for a start – for the entrepreneurs and managers of existing businesses who have been busy creating all those new jobs in the teeth of such grim forecasts. The real economic puzzle is why he has not done a great deal more in that direction already.

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