UK entrepreneurs feel ‘frustrated’

According to a survey, 500 of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs are “frustrated by the lack of an established entrepreneurial culture in the UK.

The 2002 Enterpriser Survey from accountants Ernst & Young revealed that respondents believe both the Government and the public at large have a poor understanding of entrepreneurial culture. Those surveyed were either chief executives or finance directors of their own companies.

David Wilkinson, head of entrepreneurial services at Ernst & Young, explained, “entrepreneurs are disappointed with the Government for continuing on the one hand to preach the benefits of an enterprise culture in the UK, whilst on the other burdening companies with an endless litany of red tape and excess bureaucracy.”

Nearly three-quarters of the respondents said cutting red tape would “radically improve the UK business environment to their advantage”. Just over half added that abolishing capital gains tax would help.

Wilkinson claims this shows that essentially “enterpreneurs want government to stand back and let them get on with their growing businesses with a minimum of interference.” Just under a third cited that the mooted reform of the Insolvency Act would also improve matters.

Nevertheless, despite these frustrations and the current economic woes, caused by the dotcom downturn and the events of 11 September, Wilkinson said that entrepreneurs seem to be “broadly optimistic about themselves and their businesses over the next twelve months”.

Respondents’ top three business priorities for 2002 are increasing market penetration, cited by just over half of the entrepreneurs questioned, managing cash flow, listed by just under a third, and recruiting and keeping the right people, by 30%.

These are things which “we view as pretty fundamental stuff”, said Wilkinson. “Companies are trying to get the key things right at a time when things are difficult.”

Only 2% of respondents mentioned e-commerce as a priority for 2002, despite recent government initiatives, and less than 1% cited the euro.

Wilkinson commented that instead of worrying about e-commerce, the euro and developing new products, entrepreneurs are focusing on “taking existing products into their markets and penetrating them further, keeping costs under control and managing cash, two prime drivers.”

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