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The solution for Europe’s economy: let entrepreneurs lead

Amid the political conference season, entrepreneur William Berry calls for change to get the UK economy back on track

Unless you’ve been living the life of a recluse the last few months, it’s clear: the Euro zone is in crisis. The time for action is now, and the people to do it are entrepreneurs. The weapons in our armoury are new thinking, risk taking and sheer bravery.

Jobs, health, exports as well as the end of Europe are on the line. And it’s the politicians that we vote to lead us, who are helping us commit financial suicide.

I once hoped the European Union would be the remedy for all the troubles which Europe had gone through in the last century. Instead, we are seeing the same mistakes being made now as before. It’s the young generation that will suffer, with yet another tragic waste of potential on the cards.

Politicians are playing chess with the people in their own quest for glory and passing laws that will win votes, yet cripple the economy. It was the classic Greek philosopher, Plato, who first pointed out that politicians should never be allowed to run a country. Now 2,000 years later, his beloved Greece, the biggest influence in world culture is in tatters. It’s far too late for him to say “I told you so”.

Let entrepreneurs lead

But it’s not too late to pass the Olympic torch to the entrepreneurs and bring in the fresh business thinking that will save Europe from becoming slaves of the world. Once Europe was the centre of the globe, it had the best educated, most cultivated workforce.

Where would Europe be without entrepreneurs? Every innovation, every money-spinning idea, every pioneering gamble has been the result of the entrepreneurial spirit. Leonardo Da Vinci, Mercedes Benz, George Stephenson, Thomas Crapper…. all of them went forward despite public and political opinion and built legacies that made us proud.

The incentive for people to lead in business is being destroyed. What’s happening is everything to de-incentivise the boldest in business, such as the recent calls for taxes on the rich, employment laws that make it impossible for new businesses to take on new staff and create jobs.

Entrepreneurs are the backbone of our economy, but are also the ones who are being crucified. The result? Very soon we will be unable to compete on a world stage as China and the US take over.

Time for a rethink

It requires a massive rethink, and it shames me to say it’s the US that leads the way. The latest figures from the US Government show small businesses are job creators, they represent 99.7 per cent of all firms in the States, they create more than half of the private non-farm gross domestic product, and 60 to 80% of the net new jobs.

The same thing could happen in Europe, but we have lost the way. Entrepreneurs are being held back from following suit because taxes are penalising them from making too much money, laws are stopping us from employing good people. There is too much red tape in setting up a business.

Can you imagine if we applied the same attitude to our Olympic or Paralympic team: If we suppressed the fastest runners or swimmers to make way for the ones struggling at the back. We’d be lagging at the bottom of the medal table, and that’s where our economy is destined to go, and allow the US and China to surge to the top.

To prevent the inevitable, entrepreneurs need more flexible laws so we can sack awful staff, we require funding and grants, and we need to strike the love of entrepreneurship into the heart of the nation.

If we can do it with Team GB we can do it with our economy, or very soon we will not have one to speak of.

William Berry is a serial entrepreneur and in 2006 was named a Young Gun by Growing Business. He is the founder-director of accommodationforstudents.com, conferencevenues.com, and Vincentbond.com. William is also CEO of the new video start-up p6.com, based in California.

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