Risky business

February 19, 1999

I was amused to read that entrepreneurs in the UK are "too easily satisfied" ("DTI knocks UK entrepreneurs for their 'poverty of ambition'", THES, February 5).

Philip Treleaven writes from the security of being a PAYE employee whose pension plan is two-thirds paid for by his employer and is index-linked.

Entrepreneurs with an idea must raise or borrow capital without government assistance and must market their products. While the government is ready to tax success, it will carry none of the risk. Of the new products launched in the United States each year, between 86 per cent and 90 per cent fail. Of the small firms that collapse each year in the UK, 70 per cent do so because of non-payment of debts for goods or services ordered.

Entrepreneurs have to provide privately for their own pensions and sick pay plans, and are not eligible for reciprocal free health service treatment in Europe available to employee tourists. Perhaps Professor Treleaven can write up these points for his next report as to why entrepreneurs are ready to give up once they have made their first million.

Richard Young. London SW7.

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