Do Europeans lack the ‘Entrepreneurial spirit’? Only 37% of Europeans polled in 2012 said they would like to have their own business, compared to just over half of people in the United States and China. And even if they had the drive to be self-employed, two-thirds feel that it would be simply unfeasible to start a business in the next 5 years.
It’s true that the economic climate in Europe hasn’t exactly been sunshine and rainbows recently. However, there are also risks and difficulties associated with starting your own business that might clash with so-called ‘European values’. For example, the European social model often struggles to cope with self-employed people. Depending on the country, everything from qualifying for social benefits to applying for a mortgage can be made more difficult by being your own boss.
Yet entrepreneurs are ‘job creators’. Given the continent’s stagnant economic record over the past several years, an influx of innovative new businesses could bring enormous benefits. So, what’s stopping people from starting their own businesses?
Want to learn more about attitudes to entrepreneurship in the EU? Have a look at our infographic below (click for a larger image):
When we asked our readers why Europeans weren’t more entrepreneurial, we received a flood of responses arguing that red tape is the main problem. A typical comment comes from Toni, who blames “Taxes, red tape, mandatory self-employment taxes, etc., etc.”
In a 2013 poll, 72% of young Europeans cited the administrative burden as a factor making entrepreneurship unfeasable for them. Is European bureaucracy simply not geared up to cope with self-employed people?
To get a response, we spoke to Liolios Nektarios, an entrepreneur and co-founder of Startupbootcamp, an organisation that promotes and supports entrepreneurs as they start their businesses. He agreed with Toni’s comment, but argued that some EU Member States were worse than others:
You’re right. I wouldn’t say it’s European legislation – some countries are more open to entrepreneurship than others. I live and operate in the UK, and it’s a lot easier to set up your own company and get access to certain services in the UK. So, I would see if there’s an infrastructure that allows me to exist and set up my own business, but I would definitely consider moving somewhere. This is why some places are much bigger tech hubs, or start-up hubs, than others.
To get a different perspective, we put the same question to Mathieu Carenzo, Lecturer of Entrepreneurship at the University of Navarra. What would he say to Toni?
Finally, we spoke to another entrepreneur: Robert Willstedt, the CEO of FEO Media, an independent mobile game developer based in Stockholm. What did the situation look like from his perspective?
What’s stopping you from starting your own business? Do Europeans simply lack the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’? Or are taxes and red tape the problem? Is access to starting capital the biggest barrier to starting a business in the EU? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!
IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Rachel
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