Where are all the UK entrepreneurs?

If all goes well, then by the time this article gets published I will have received my first pay cheque in 6 months. Not because I’ve been unemployed, but because I chose to leave my permanent job for a pre-funding start-up. When I told people I was quitting a steady job to work without salary in the worst downturn since the Second World War, I expected a lot of people to tell me I was being reckless. What I wasn’t expecting from people was incredulity.

I’ve honestly been surprised at the number of people who think it would be impossible for someone like me to forgo six month’s salary. By the time you factor in the reduction in my tax liability, my opportunity cost has been less than the cost of buying a new BMW 1-Series, but if my acquaintances saw me driving a brand new car I doubt they would bat an eyelid. This comparison ignores the fact that shares in a start-up (sometimes) appreciate, while the car costs money to run and depreciates at an alarming rate.

If this attitude is as widespread in the British population as my anecdotal evidence would suggest, this says something slightly alarming: many people think that the best a person can do is to work a steady job and consume the proceeds, and that risk-taking and investment are something for “other people” to do. More worryingly, debt-driven consumption is regarded as perfectly acceptable (nobody would think to ask where I got the money for the 1-series, or whether I could afford it).

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