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Editorial: building business in the land

Estonia celebrates Entrepreneur Day created by current coalition

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PHOTO: Peeter Langovits

For the first time ever, Estonia today hoists flags to celebrate Entrepreneur Day. If in a company or agency here and there they cut a cake, fine. Even so, don't let it be time wasted on hollow oratory. Better be thinking of the business culture as its currently stands, the economy as a whole, boosting the state/entrepreneur dialogue.

In earnest, entrepreneurship in Estonia could begin to develop as market economy emerged i.e. in regained independence. As characterised by keywords like Iron Curtain coming down, opening up of the West, creation of the cooperatives, the Soviet background firms still around – and many other characteristics like that. This is where we are coming from. Considering the shortness of the time, the present level of Estonian entrepreneurs and the environment is not bad at all. It’s just that we haven’t had the family firms, listed companies and brands of decades-long traditions.

At the beginning, «businessman» tended to sound sinful. Still, we are halfway out. To this day, we lack the understanding that entrepreneurs may actually at times fail. Learning from mistakes, bankruptcy must not spell The End. Even the world famed multimillionaires haven’t always succeeded. With start-ups, that’s just «life» – they try, they test, they develop stuff, they sell their solutions.

Our home market being tiny, the thinking needs to be big. In the open world of the now, Estonian entrepreneurs are competing globally and let’s admit we are quite nicely on board thanks to fresh firms that blaze the trails: TransferWise, CrabCAD, Skype. Meanwhile, trails can only be blazed when conditions are created. When ideas and developments are supported by education system and legislation. Often, we run into examples of smart e-solutions stuck in stiffness of the law.

Some say the entrepreneur day spawned by the coalition is hypocritical. Businessmen are not treated equally with other taxpayers, as lately lamented by 1Partner Real Estate CEO Martin Vahter in Äripäev. «Today, all entrepreneurs and whoever sits in some company board for no pay are second class people, as if. Despite the obligation to pay unemployment insurance tax on every euro earned as salary, if left unemployed they don’t get a cent of benefit,» wrote Mr Vahter.

This being just an example, several are the worries of entrepreneurs – the governmental toying with taxes, the signs of state capitalism, the mindless bureaucracy… Why not use today to boost the dialogue between state and entrepreneurs. By that, environment begets extra openness for fresh ideas and new people in business.

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