The Entrepreneurs Manifesto is a public declaration aimed at supporting the UK's 4.4 million small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Authored by Doug Richard, the high profile entrepreneur and former TV 'Dragon', the manifesto calls for a new deal for entrepreneurs as a "recession buster" solution for the UK.
The document consists of two sections:
The Entrepreneurs' Manifesto - a statement of principles highlighting the challenges that the UK must overcome to truly harness the potential of its entrepreneurs
The Declaration of Rights - a series of practical recommendations for the current and incoming Government to clear the path for an explosion in entrepreneurial activity
Doug Richard will be speaking about the manifesto at the major social enterprise conference 'Growing a Successful Social Enterprise' at the Royal Institution, London on Tuesday 19th January 2010, hosted by the University of Essex and supported by the Transformation Fund of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.
"And what it held stood ready to be loosed with all the power that being changed can give."
- Philip Larkin
A spectre is haunting the United Kingdom - the spectre of Capitalism.
As a nation we fear that nothing has changed; that greedy bankers will continue to be rewarded for their failure, that amoral corporations will continue to put profits in front of people and the environment, and that the State, however bloated and costly, is not only unable to control the beast but must compete with other nations to be its servant at an unbearable cost to itself.
We have banks so large that they dwarf the very governments whose guarantees they rely upon for our trust. We have become hostage creditors to their uncoupled risk taking. And worse, as nations we are reduced to acting like market stall vendors shouting our best price louder than the adjoining shopkeeper hoping they will purchase just one more night. They are not just too big to fail. They are too big to even let leave.
The largest corporations pit our tax systems against each other. Their capital alights like a wind born leaf ready to whisp away on the slightest breeze of taxation. In the failure of a global commons their profits shoulder a fraction of the costs of the infrastructure and shared society whose foundations support them.
The environment has no voice, the consumer has no collective; thus the largest corporations are neither charged for their cost to the world nor rewarded for building products that endure.
Yet our State continues to grow. It has devoured every pound of taxation and growls for more. Our civil servants earn uncivil wages. When the economy grew, it outgrew the economy. Despite a decade that has seen more than a 40% increase in welfare spending, our rates of poverty and joblessness have continued to climb. One in four UK citizens live in poverty; nearly three million children do. Over the last ten years our index of production has fallen more than 10%. In the last two years our index of services has fallen over 5% as well. Our national debt is now 60% of our GDP. We are demonstrably poorer as a nation. The system does not work.
In their fear, and amplified by their impotence, our politicians rail against the excesses of the global financial system, the greed of the corporations and the system that drives it: capitalism.
Their fear reflects the real power of capitalism. It is the acknowledged force that respects no nation's boundaries and no politicians' calls for fairness.
But the current economic downturn, precipitated by the credit crisis in the financial system is neither proof of the failure of capitalism nor an endorsement of the profligate spendthrift ineffectiveness of our government.
It marks the first recession in a globally connected economy and the speed by which local folly is amplified into a global crisis. It demonstrates the short-sightedness of permitting investment banks to co-habit with retail banks thus coupling the low risk savings and loans business that underpin our citizens to the high risk and volatile business of financial inventions and speculation. And it is a vivid demonstration that much of what we call financial services adds little or no economic value to the nation.
Unleashing the wealth creators
But, the wealth of this nation, and of every nation rests on the shoulders of entrepreneurial activity. The innovators who open new markets, create new products, deliver new services and change the processes of business itself; by the very act of creation, destroy less efficient industries, create greater productivity and as a direct result create all new wealth.
The State is not our society. It is the largest servant of our society and to the degree it intends to deliver greater benefits and services to all of its citizen's in equal measure the greater its moral obligation to ensure that it harnesses the power of the entrepreneur to constantly improve the delivery of its services. The size of the State, itself, is not the enemy. Thus focusing on its size will not lead us to a solution. "Societies that try to reap the gain of creative destruction without the pain find themselves enduring the pain but not the gain."
The tax receipts that flow from the entrepreneurs' efforts pay for all the services we receive. Yet the services we receive are not beneficiaries of that gale of creative destruction. The State, often operates from the flawed assumption that if it's the State's obligation to ensure we are safe, healthy and educated, then only the State can deliver a fair service. That notion of fairness is the fairness of the least: that no one can benefit more than the least the state can deliver. Thus, everyone gets the least, we cannot improve until we can improve everyone and we end up improving no one.
But to the smallest degree that the State aspires to deliver more than it can afford; it has no choice at all: it must recuse itself from the monolithic delivery of all services and create playing fields upon which entrepreneurs can be unleashed. Harness the collective creative self-interest of our entrepreneurial output for the benefit of meeting our social objectives and we can ensure that they will improve at the fastest possible pace. We will see a flowering of ideas, a manifold unfolding of new approaches and a gale of creative destruction that sweeps the Kafkaesque bureaucracy and sclerosis from the implementation of government.
Beyond the state, the promise for the United Kingdom is to lead the world, not follow. To create the economic freedoms necessary to nurture innovation and entrepreneurialism and to realise that entrepreneurs, like teachers and doctors are key contributors to the healthiest societies.
That is the promise of entrepreneurship. That is the opportunity for the United Kingdom.
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