What’s on the minds of Europe’s top entrepreneurs?

The discussion, at the recent Epson Business Council, included the founder of Confused.com, Sara Murray (pictured above), the Spanish President of Stradbroke Advisors, Inma Martinez, and Jonathan Benhamou, French Founder and CEO of secure online payment business Novapost.
What was obvious was their buoyant attitude to Europe’s situation today, given the apparent chaos, so it seemed fitting to share the reasons for this optimism and give our European entrepreneurs and small businesses a few reasons to have faith in Europe’s business climate:
Europe is strong in craftsmanship and design: Spanish funding expert Inma Martinez was keen to emphasise that craftmanship and design are core strengths of Europe and that these factors are vital to the long-term success of an organisation and should be considered as important as other aspects such as good customer service.
She pointed to the success of Brompton Bikes, the privately owned fold-up bicycle manufacturer designed and produced in England as proof of the core role of design and the importance of local manufacture.
Human capital in Europe is fantastic: Europe continues to offer some of the most solid learning institutions in the world and produces some of the world’s most exciting entrepreneurs. Just look at the likes of Autonomy’s Mike Lynch, who now runs companies worth billions.
Unfortunately, it is currently the case that lots of these entrepreneurs head for Silicon Valley to make a success of their businesses. In order to stop this “brain drain” Europe should be taking steps to accommodate and support its top talent’s ambition to create and grow successful local businesses.
European entrepreneurs are passionate about success and down-to-earth: We’ve all seen stories of company bosses who have gone ‘back to the floor’ to make sure every tier of their business is running as efficiently as possible.
This attitude of rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty is often an important aspect of business for European entrepreneurs, who have the power to make instant changes if they see inefficient operations or sub-standard service levels without the interference of middle management.  
We’re learning to spend and invest wisely: There’s no denying that the recent turbulent times will have an impact on the way our organisations spend and invest in the future. We’re learning the hard way how to make funding stretch further and how to take a more cautious approach, running companies on limited resources.
This should stand us in good stead, creating tougher, leaner organisations without relying on government funding or grants.
Our small businesses are agile: Sara Murray, founder of Confused.com and location service Buddi, admitted starting her businesses without a full view of what direction they would go. She has since discovered new markets and aspects to her products which she could not have anticipated.
This is the secret weapon of the small business: it can adapt its offering far more quickly than larger organisations who are often more restricted by legacy and tradition. We now have 19 million small businesses in Europe.
Many of these will find their markets shrinking or disappearing and the ones that survive will be the leanest, most adaptable of all.
So, according to Europe’s top entrepreneurs, small businesses and budding entrepreneurs shouldn’t presume the worst for the future of their businesses. In fact, Europe needs to believe more in itself and its abilities to move away from the media’s depiction of volatile times and failing businesses, which, while impossible to ignore, should not dissuade us from aiming for a strong, prosperous economic future.