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The government should learn from entrepreneurs

REGARDLESS of their social class, the thing that unites most of the people that I work with is the aspiration to use their lives to build something amazing. Many of the people I deal with have significantly improved their lives through sharp focus, incredible hard work, and the application of their intelligence, energy, personal charm and character.

They don’t rely on family position, inherited wealth or advanced educational qualifications. These are typical citizens in what I call Entrepreneur Country, the kind of place that the UK is rapidly becoming as more people take advantage of the lower cost of entrepreneurship, the ability to get businesses off the ground with very low up-front costs and minimal on-going fixed costs.

But these are also the people that will be the most hurt by the increase in National Insurance that was announced last week. A banker might not notice, but if you are setting up your own business, or managing a small shop, or on a salary less than £50,000, you certainly will.

Faced with an unprecedented financial crisis, the government chose to step in and support the banks.
Public spending does stimulate the economy, but only temporarily. If you want to create real jobs and real wealth, you need to allow people to have disposable incomes that are big enough to build businesses that can lead to sustainable growth.

Personal freedom and the ability to be the author of one’s destiny are two of the things that unite citizens of Entrepreneur Country.

They don’t want a modern feudal environment where they must give up their economic freedom. Politics is ultimately always about economics. If you give up your economic freedom, all the rest of your freedoms follow eventually.

Despite the craze of personal borrowing over the past years, most people understand that they should live within their means. And – as the polls have shown – they expect governments to do so too.

The party that wins the next general election should set about transferring economic power to the individual, not claiming that a government that is living beyond its means can solve all of the country’s problems. Revenue has to cover costs, whether you’re talking about a company’s balance sheet or a country’s public purse. It’s time to move to a leaner model, built along the same lines as Entrepreneur country.

Julie Meyer is the founder of Entrepreneur Country, the chief executive of Ariadne Capital, and a Dragon on the BBC’s Online Dragon’s Den.