The purpose of this paper is to identify the obstacles encountered by current and potential entrepreneurs. The authors explore the areas associated with starting and running a business in which entrepreneurs find difficulties. Furthermore, the authors explore which entrepreneurs experience most difficulties. What issues do entrepreneurs in different sectors need help with? What issues do entrepreneurs with different current positions in the labor market need help with?
The authors use a unique database that includes information regarding the questions that entrepreneurs ask when they call a government helpline established to provide information about how to start and run a business. The database consists of more than 30,000 observations during the period from 2005 to 2009.
The results indicate that aside from general questions and concerns, taxes, laws and permits are the issues with which entrepreneurs most frequently need help. The authors do not find any gender differences regarding the need for help. Currently or future unemployed entrepreneurs more often need help related to financing, grants and business plans. Self-employed entrepreneurs need help with issues related to operating the firm, such as questions regarding employment, accounting, permits and laws.
The research provides unique insights into the problems that entrepreneurs encounter during the entrepreneurial process. Hence, the paper identifies areas in which better or additional counseling and support from public policy agencies may be needed to improve the development and performance of new ventures.
The authors would like to thank Viktor Jedeskog and Kalle Westberg at the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth for providing us with data and valuable information about the helpline and with the funding to enable us to work with the database. The views and opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth. Furthermore, the authors would like to thank the three anonymous referees for their valuable suggestions.
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