Download The Entrepreneurs' Manifesto & Declaration of Rights

18 JAN 2010

by Doug Richard
January 2010

(Download The Entrepreneurs’ Manifesto and Declaration of Rights PDF)

The Entrepreneurs Manifesto is a public declaration aimed at supporting the UK’s 4.4 million small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Authored by Doug Richard, the high profile entrepreneur and former TV ‘Dragon’, the manifesto calls for a new deal for entrepreneurs as a “recession buster” solution for the UK.

The document consists of two sections:

  • The Entrepreneurs Manifesto
    A statement of principles highlighting the challenges that the UK must overcome to truly harness the potential of its entrepreneurs
  • The Declaration of Rights
    A series of practical recommendations for the current and incoming Government to clear the path for an explosion in entrepreneurial activity

Doug Richard will be speaking about the manifesto at the major social enterprise conference Growing a Successful Social Enterprise at the Royal Institution, London on Tuesday 19th January 2010, hosted by the University of Essex and supported by the Transformation Fund of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

The Entrepreneurs Manifesto

And what it held
stood ready to be loosed
with all the power that being changed can give.
Philip Larkin

A spectre is haunting the United Kingdom — the spectre of Capitalism.

As a nation we fear that nothing has changed; that greedy bankers will continue to be rewarded for their failure, that amoral corporations will continue to put profits in front of people and the environment, and that the State, however bloated and costly, is not only unable to control the beast but must compete with other nations to be its servant at an unbearable cost to itself.

We have banks so large that they dwarf the very governments whose guarantees they rely upon for our trust. We have become hostage creditors to their uncoupled risk taking. And worse, as nations we are reduced to acting like market stall vendors shouting our best price louder than the adjoining shopkeeper hoping they will purchase just one more night. They are not just too big to fail. They are too big to even let leave.

The largest corporations pit our tax systems against each other. Their capital alights like a wind born leaf ready to whisp away on the slightest breeze of taxation. In the failure of a global commons their profits shoulder a fraction of the costs of the infrastructure and shared society whose foundations support them.

The environment has no voice, the consumer has no collective;  thus the largest corporations are neither charged for their cost to the world nor rewarded for building products that endure.

Yet our State continues to grow. It has devoured every pound of taxation and growls for more. Our civil servants earn uncivil wages. When the economy grew, it outgrew the economy. Despite a decade that has seen more than a 40% increase in welfare spending (i), our rates of poverty and joblessness have continued to climb.  One in four UK citizens live in poverty; nearly three million children do (ii).  Over the last ten years our index of production has fallen more than 10%. In the last two years our index of services has fallen over 5% as well (iii). Our national debt is now 60% of our GDP (iv). We are demonstrably poorer as a nation. The system does not work.

In their fear, and amplified by their impotence, our politicians rail against the excesses of the global financial system, the greed of the corporations and the system that drives it: capitalism.

Their fear reflects the real power of capitalism. It is the acknowledged force that respects no nation’s boundaries and no politicians’ calls for fairness.

But the current economic downturn, precipitated by the credit crisis in the financial system is neither proof of the failure of capitalism nor an endorsement of the profligate spendthrift ineffectiveness of our government.

It marks the first recession in a globally connected economy and the speed by which local folly is amplified into a global crisis. It demonstrates the short‐sightedness of permitting investment banks to co‐habit with retail banks thus coupling the low risk savings and loans business that underpin our citizens to the high risk and volatile business of financial inventions and speculation. And it is a vivid demonstration that much of what we call financial services adds little or no economic value to the nation.

Unleashing the wealth creators

But, the wealth of this nation, and of every nation rests on the shoulders of entrepreneurial activity. The innovators who open new markets, create new products, deliver new services and change the processes of business itself; by the very act of creation, destroy less efficient industries, create greater productivity and as a direct result create all new wealth.

The State is not our society.  It is the largest servant of our society and to the degree it intends to deliver greater benefits and services to all of its citizen’s in equal measure the greater its moral obligation to ensure that it harnesses the power of the entrepreneur  to constantly improve the delivery of its services. The size of the State, itself, is not the enemy. Thus focusing on its size will not lead us to a solution. “Societies that try to reap the gain of creative destruction without the pain find themselves enduring the pain but not the gain.” (v)

The tax receipts that flow from the entrepreneurs’ efforts pay for all the services we receive. Yet the services we receive are not beneficiaries of that gale of creative destruction. The State, often operates from the flawed assumption that if it’s the State’s obligation to ensure we are safe, healthy and educated, then only the State can deliver a fair service. That notion of fairness is the fairness of the least: that no one can benefit more than the least the state can deliver. Thus, everyone gets the least, we cannot improve until we can improve everyone and we end up improving no one.

But to the smallest degree that the State aspires to deliver more than it can afford; it has no choice at all: it must recuse itself from the monolithic delivery of all services and create playing fields upon which entrepreneurs can be unleashed. Harness the collective creative self‐interest of our entrepreneurial output for the benefit of meeting our social objectives and we can ensure that they will improve at the fastest possible pace. We will see a flowering of ideas, a manifold unfolding of new approaches and a gale of creative destruction that sweeps the Kafkaesque bureaucracy and sclerosis from the implementation of government.

Beyond the state, the promise for the United Kingdom is to lead the world, not follow. To create the economic freedoms necessary to nurture innovation and entrepreneurialism and to realise that entrepreneurs, like teachers and doctors are key contributors to the healthiest societies. That is the promise of entrepreneurship. That is the opportunity for the United Kingdom.

The Entrepreneurs Declaration of Rights

We stand at a crossroads. The United Kingdom has the potential to remain a central economic and political power amongst the world’s nations or it can sink slowly beneath the weight of its problems and the impotency of its remedies.

We are a nation that has everything it needs to enter the 21st century on a wave of growth and prosperity. But to do so we must harness the only force for growth, for prosperity and for fairness and social justice that exists: the entrepreneurial culture.

This is not about capital. This is not about the few getting rich at the expense of the many. This is not about the preservation of privilege. If anything it is the key to the opposite: the creation of ladders of social mobility, and increasing of the wealth of the nation so we can afford the services we believe are the rights of our citizens: to be healthy, to be educated, to be safe and to remain free.

But harnessing entrepreneurialism first means understanding it: an entrepreneur takes on the risk of innovating in the expectation of being rewarded for success. Reducing the incentives of being rewarded, increasing the obstacles to create new enterprises, limiting the shape and type of entrepreneurial activity and not investing in the key infrastructure upon which the next wave of innovation will depend, all combine to emasculate our nascent entrepreneurs.

Thus we call for our government to change its priorities.

We must increase economic freedom for new businesses and small businesses and all businesses that take new business risk. We must cut the time it takes to start a new business. We must radically streamline the effort of complying with government regulation and exempt the smallest businesses from many of the regulations entirely.

We must sweep clean the entire government funded industry of business support and leave behind solely an institution whose remit is to expedite and simplify the effort of small business to manage the burden that government places upon it.

We must free up the savings of our families, friends and communities so that they may give, invest or lend their own small capital into the nascent businesses of their children, their friends and their communities with credits and exemptions that radically encourage the activity.

We must stop paying people to be un‐employed and begin to share the cost of them being taught to be employed. Apprenticeship is not solely for the trades; it is for any job in any company. We face a lost generation of students and young graduates with no hope for jobs whilst employers have no means to underwrite the period they need to make those students into productive employees.

We must recognize that the largest customer in the UK is the government itself. The government must adopt a requirement that a specific percentage of all of its procurement will be through small and medium businesses. It must place the responsibility for compliance with industry and at no cost to itself drive revenue to our entrepreneurs and open the doors of government to innovation.

We must broaden the scope for social entrepreneurs by creating new legal frameworks that explicitly encourage a broad range of social businesses from co‐ownership models such as John Lewis to for‐profit businesses that seek to achieve a social bottom line as well as a traditional profit.

Finally, we must recognize the centrality of connectedness in the competition amongst nations. The United Kingdom must wire itself and do so urgently. Just as our roads and trains are a public service and a natural monopoly; so too is true broadband. True broadband is not 1MBof information trickling down to some of our homes. It is 100Mb to every doorstep in this country. It is the key infrastructure that will kindle a wave of creative destruction and increased wealth that will match the industrial revolution. It will reduce the stress on our crowded transport systems, it will re‐vitalize neglected sections of our nation, it will place the key tools in place to amplify and distribute scarce resources in education and health care. And it is achievable now.

Finally, we must understand that we do not understand. People are not empowered to step out on their own, take risk, hope for reward, and move on from failure. The corrosive impact of an overprotective State is not merely the loss of our sense of responsibility to a civil society; it is the even more profound loss of our sense of capacity to change society, to have an impact, to be, in short, an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship can be taught and must be learned.

About Doug Richard

Doug Richard is a successful entrepreneur with 20 years’ experience in the development and leadership of technology and software ventures, Doug featured in the first two TV series of Dragon’s Den. He is the Founder and Vice‐Chairman of the Cambridge Angels and Chairman of the Conservative Party Small Business Task Force.

Between 1996 and 2000 Doug was President and CEO of Micrografx, a US publicly quoted software company. Prior to that he also founded and subsequently sold two other companies: Visual Software and ITAL Computers.

Doug holds a BA in Psychology from University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctor at the school of Law, University of California at Los Angeles. In 2006 Doug was an Honorary Recipient of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion. In 2007, Doug became a fellow of the RSA. In 2009  he received an honorary Doctorate from the University of Essex for his contributions to the teaching of Entrepreneurship.

Doug has always been a champion for startups and small businesses. Even before founding School for Startups he actively mentored, coached and supported many entrepreneurs. In 2008, after teaching a one‐day class in entrepreneurship, Doug decided to found an enterprise dedicated to helping people start better, more profitable, businesses. Since 2008 he has taught thousands in face to face and online classes across the UK.

His wry, candid, practical and ultimately upbeat courses in how to start a business quickly, with a minimum of outside investment and how to market and grow a business efficiently make him a sought after speaker.

As Doug says, “Entrepreneurship can be taught and must be learned.”


i   Centre for Social Justice report ‐ “Dynamic Benefits: Towards Welfare That Works”

ii  Households Below Average Income (HBAI) survey for 2007/08

iii Office of National Statistics — Index of Production & Index of Services charts

iv  Office National Statistics — November 2009, UK public sector net debt was £829.7 billion (59.2% of National GDP)

v   Joseph Schumpeter, economist

  1. Pingback: The Entreprenuers' Manifesto is About to Be Released | Doug Richard's School for Startups

  2. Its about time somebody took some real action – Thanks Doug from all the startup entrepreneurs I know!!!

  3. I second Victoria’s comment. Inspirational Doug. I will forward this to everyone I know or can think of that would appreciate it. I genuinely hope the powers that be take heed and take your lead. Once these proposals turn into actual changes throughout society, starting with policy in national government, I genuinely believe the UK will be a far more empowering place for future generations.

    I appreciate all your comments on Creative Destruction, empowering entrepreneurs to take/manage risk and the centrality of connectedness to international standing and therefore Broadband’s relationship to environment & sustainability. Simple and to the point. How likely is it however, that we will see some actual change in the thinking or policy behind government to instigate these urgently needed changes? Who in the Houses of Parliament is up to the task?

    The first conversation I had with you included a specific government department researching why innovative internet start-ups leave the UK for the US. I think you have answered their questions for a second time with this manifesto. Would you agree that while we wait for a single institution to manage and enable entrepreneurial ventures – we need more Y-Combinator style incubators over here in the UK? If it wasn’t for our most entrepreneurial universities such as Nottingham (and lessons from you/s4s) I think I would have been applying for a green card by now.

  4. I think that y-combinator is a great organization that benefits from being located in the Valley. Though I would like to see some more activity that is similar; it undoubtedly will have proportionally less effect because of the absence of the Valley effect

  5. Disruptive change is needed, reward for risk, guidance and signposting to support compliance and bridge the long tail between idea and first revenues.
    Please do focus in on the importance of learning from the breakfast table to the boardroom, from the community and the class room.
    Do stress how important proprietor owned businesses are, these companies and the people in it know intimately how important their customers are and why being better is what keeps their business vital. Give them the confidence to look beyond the bureaucracy of policy writers and strategy on paper that is not reflected in execusion.
    Provide the incentive to allow an entrepreneur or SME to step off the first s curve and on to the next to grow, enabling consolidation and growth of sectors as well as businesses and avoid the lack of mobility from one s curve to next to feed fatigue and complacency.
    In healthcare just look how important the independent GP and Pharmacy is to the community. Allow people to understand how different markets can be today and will be in the next few decades. Preserve the desire to make a difference and own success with pride, energy and vision. A triple bottom line economy will emerge if we apply and preserve these values for the individual and society. Nice work!

  6. Great stuff, Doug, but incomplete, I think.

    I agree totally that the State should step right back and let entrepreneurs get on with it.

    But in my view entrepreneurs need forms of finance – of credit and investment – which do not place the costs of dividends to unproductive shareholders (particularly bank shareholders) on the entrepreneur’s back.

    Vampire Squid capitalism is jointly to blame with the State IMHO, and I say that from a background in the City, for six years a director of a global exchange.

    I’ve been working in Scotland for a few years – with a little Norwegian government funding – to develop simple but radical new financing tools which I believe could help unleash a tidal wave of talent.

    This article was published by the US Carnegie Council

    and this presentation was very well received

    Limited Liability Companies are obsolescent IMHO – and debt financing is the subject of systemic capital shortage.

    So why not try a different approach?

    A market operating “Not for Loss”

  7. Pingback: Former Dragon calls for reform « Business Advantage

  8. It is very encouraging to see such opinions from someone who, as Chairman of the Conservative (or indeed any) Party Small Business Task Force, is actually engaging with the political process to bring this about.

    I have been working with colleagues all over Europe for the last ten years, and find it interesting that England still has the last vestiges of a culture of labour mobility and fiscal regulation which enabled the creation of businesses which would not be possible in those countries – hence the influx of French firms to Kent, for example.

    It is in the interest of everyone who seeks to earn a living by creating and developing businesses to see such reforms brought about.

  9. Pingback: Entrepreneurs Manifesto And Declaration of Rights | Stella Pop's Official Content Marketing Blog

  10. As a Business Adviser who works at start up stage, my clients tell me they really benefit from the fully funded support they receive to help them explore their ideas, understand how to go about researching the market, planning direction, measures, assessing risk on paper, overcoming issues and barriers towards taking next steps and it would be a real shame indeed if the whole of this type of support were to be scrapped! In the golden days of business support it was possible to spend any amount of time helping aspiring business owners to move forward and what they need is both the support of an adviser as well as an injection of start up funding. Dont throw out the baby with the bath water!

  11. As an academic, teaching on government supported programmes your comment Doug concerning removing the Government funded industry of business support is an interesting debate. As an academic I have had the ability to see that government funded programmes can and have helped many students and graduates understand more about enterprise, but not necessarily teach them ‘how to’ be an entrepreneur.

    I have carried out considerable amounts of research that suggests that only through our own experiences can you fully understand what it takes to be an entrepreneur. However, in my experience ‘earlier intervention’ at Universities to enable students to practice and learn from their own entrepreneurial experience is very difficult to facilitate without government funded programmes, with cash to help students as well.

    But in the same instance I believe moving forward educationalists need to consider how they can design, deliver and sustain ‘better’ and more ‘innovative’ approaches to provide university students with the experiences to help them decide if ‘being in business’ is for them. Are we too reliant on funding in driving forward enterprise and is this detrimental to the development of enterprise within HEI’s? I believe that maybe we are…

  12. It is enlightening that a recent survey indicates that the majority of small businesses cannot name the current Secretary of State for Business – though not a total surprise! I was with a client today (a well established business and growing well) and they had never even heard of Business Link. If I hear that re-launched yet again as the “one stop shop for business” I will scream. This, and to be fair previous governments, have wasted millions on futile “initiatives’ claimed to help business and start ups – and all that has happened is duplication between departments and a rag tag of schemes leading to confusion. I have worked, for many years, helping the unemployed to become self-employed and have lobbied the government for financial help to get Lone Parents starting their own businesses – talk about trying to push water uphill, it is painful. Small businesses got us out of the last recession and they will this time – just let us get on with it. Doug is to be commended for his Declaration of Rights. I hope it makes a difference ……

  13. Pingback: Have your say! Business support « Start Up Donut blog

  14. Here is a real-life conversation that says it all:
    Jack (son of unemployed milkman):
    “Come on, Jill, you’ve been in this country for only two years, and your dad owns houses all over the place.”
    John (Jack’s father): “He must have come to this country loaded. Money makes money.”
    Jill (laughing): “Loaded?! He only had £100.00 in his pocket when he came here.”
    John:”One hundred pounds! That is less than I get in benefits in one week! Surely, a married man with two children he could have asked for help from the government. The Council would have given you a house.”
    Jill: “But, then he would not have all those houses all over the place.”
    John:”Umm, But it is more convenient to thin that way.”
    The names in the above conversation are changed, but it really did take place.
    Government cannot “create” enterpreneurs, they are created by Necessity.

  15. Doug,

    When you initially put pen to paper 4 / 5 months ago I don’t think anybody could have envisaged the coalition we now have.

    Historically I think of the conservative party as being the friends of big business, the city and banks, not the partners of the SME and start-ups that are going to create the new wealth and opportunities you highlight.

    What’s you early initial take on where we find ourselves politically today? Do you see hope of progress in the coming months?

    Roy Hinds

  16. Pingback: Time for some fresh ideas about business support

  17. Pingback: The Rise of the Entrepreneurial Class | Doug Richard's School for Startups

  18. Seeing what entrepreneurship can achieve, how it can turn lives around, can enable individuals to ‘feel that they are worth something’, makes me believe that this manifesto should be central to governments policy.