Access to finance and skilled talent are the key challenges facing Irish entrepreneurs, according to the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year (EOY) Entrepreneurship Barometer.

These findings stemmed from the collective feedback gathered from 350 of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs, all of whom are previous EY EOY finalists.

“It is vital for Government, industry and academia to understand the specific challenges facing entrepreneurs and collaborate to solve problems, address legislative and cultural barriers to success, and together shape the future of entrepreneurship in Ireland,” said partner-in-charge of EY EOY Frank O’Keeffe on the release of the EOY Entrepreneurship Barometer.

Talent and funding emerged neck and neck as the main challenges facing Ireland’s entrepreneurs, with 41pc of respondents naming skilled hire attraction as a major hurdle and a further 41pc citing a lack of finance options as inhibiting the growth of their businesses.

Delving deeper into the area of talent attraction, 38pc cited specific challenges associated with attracting experienced hire, while an additional 24.4pc noted difficulties in sourcing both experienced hire and skilled graduates.

While multinationals were seen as direct competitors in the race to hire the best talent, the findings also revealed a skills shortage, with a particular emphasis on the need to increase the pipeline of graduates with engineering, sales and programming skills.

The economic environment was specified by 33pc of respondents as a major challenge for today’s entrepreneurs. Specific issues included growing markets, global competition and a lack of consumer confidence.

Over one in two entrepreneurs surveyed (59pc) believe the lack of finance options for start-ups was stifling the growth of new businesses in Ireland.

While traditional funding such as business angels, private equity and venture capital remain limited for Irish start-ups, there is a higher demand for non-traditional funding, such as crowd-funding and microfinance.

Respondents also felt that a fear of failure proved to be a major barrier for budding entrepreneurs (37pc), calling for a need to reframe failure as a step towards success.

The majority of respondents (74pc) believed that there was little support given to struggling and failed entrepreneurs, particularly in relation to social welfare support and policy. A call was made for the Government to create an infrastructure that shared available resources, guidance and supports to get struggling entrepreneurial businesses back on track.

“The entrepreneurs who fed insights into our Entrepreneurship Barometer represent 28 of the island of Ireland’s 32 counties,” added O’Keeffe.

“Together, they employ 152,250 individuals; generating revenues of €16.6bn and creating 13,650 new jobs in just 2013 alone. This is a community who should be supported and celebrated as having the power to bring our country back to economic stability.”

The EY EOY Entrepreneurship Barometer was released in advance of the closing deadline for nominations to the EY EOY 2014 programme on Monday, 17 March.

Entrepreneurs who wish to put their businesses forward for the prestigious business accolade can do so by going to www.eoy.ie and filling the short nomination form.

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