Stein on ... entrepreneurial spirit

If you are a friend of mine on the social networking website Facebook, you will know that I have recently conducted a study tour to the USA to review retailing practices. In my opinion, US retailers are the most sales-orientated in the world.

Although I am fairly familiar with the US retail style, I was surprised and stimulated by the extent of the entrepreneurial culture that pervaded every area we visited. The UK, like the USA, has huge economic issues to address, but one way to help us out of the mess we are in is to develop the skills and drive so evident in the USA's entrepreneurial culture.

We need new products for new markets and more businesses to be established but, crucially, we need those we already have to be more entrepreneurial. Sadly, our culture doesn't welcome entrepreneurs. By nature they take risk, and risk involves failure, which can be hard to recover from, socially and financially.

We need to be more accepting of those who fail and give them a second or third chance. Look at many of the most successful business people and you will find a failed project used as a stepping stone to a business idea that worked. Entrepreneurs are also creative and imaginative, qualities we must embrace if we want to grow our sales.

Our industry in particular needs to be much more enterprising. Unfortunately, a lot of UK legislation dampens the creative spirit and impedes our ability to follow an idea or opportunity. The coalition Government may well be thinking that enterprise is one of the ways we can get out of the mess we are in - universities Minister David Willetts has said that since there are no jobs for graduates they would do well to become entrepreneurs - but Government needs to act to encourage this to happen.

People cannot be enterprising if the banks don't lend money. So let's all lobby our MPs to put the case for a lighter touch on regulation and get the Government to force the banks to start some serious lending again.

Neville Stein is managing director of the Ovation Business Consultancy.

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