Opinion: Enterprise is key to prosperity

Original article written by Stephen Fear for the Bristol Post on 1st November 2017 (also featured on SouthWestBusiness.co.uk on 21st November 2017).

Britain is arguably the world’s oldest continuous democracy.

It is a country admired by people everywhere. A place where free speech is a fundamental part of law, even if that law is sometimes difficult to uphold.

There is no doubt that both the hard right and hard left have very loud voices, often screaming abuse at each other and the rest of us from behind masks. Thankfully though, when it comes to the ballot box, these loud and often snarling voices are usually found to have fallen on deaf ears.

In my opinion, most people are not persuaded by either extreme and prefer to select a government that represents the centre.

We all want more homes to be built, better schools, expanded health care, and increased safety from a well-funded police force and fire brigade, but the fact is these services have to be paid for.

These essential services do not create money but they, quite rightly, spend it! Clearly they are part of the deep intrinsic wealth of society so need protecting and enhancing, and the people working within them need decent pay and conditions.

People working for the NHS, police or fire brigade, for example, often work long hours just as many entrepreneurs and business owners do. It isn’t unusual for someone starting a business to work 100-hour weeks for many years with no minimum wage or holiday pay. They have often put their house up as security for a business loan too.

I often tell young entrepreneurs to “only borrow money to make money and never to improve your lifestyle, only do that from the new money you make”.

Perhaps governments past, present and future, can learn something from this statement?

Any government that does not nurture enterprise will eventually collapse the economy and bring with it catastrophic results for our people. Potent modern day examples are: Venezuela, Cuba and the former Soviet Union.

All adopted a system of government which effectively banned private business and curtailed enterprise and they all, ultimately, paid the grim price of that decision when their governments collapsed in chaos. Where are their health service, pay raises and pension rights now?

To repair the damage done by banning business and private enterprise over many years, they have had to bring back the very enterprise culture they banned. It is the only way they are able to create the wealth required to supply the essential services needed.

Entrepreneurs and businesses have a crucial part to play in creating the money that we as a society need, so it is essential that any government genuinely supports a business agenda in an effort to create the money needed to spend on our NHS.

Britain is a great democratic nation but those who want to spend money must understand that it has to be created first. Borrowing and more austerity is not the long term answer. More and better managed enterprise and public services most certainly are.

Recognising that business and enterprise are creators of prosperity is crucial and forward thinking. It’s essential to Britain’s future.

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