The Entrepreneurship Imperative

EntrepreneurI’m frequently asked for advice on launching a new business. Not only do I enjoy helping entrepreneurs eager to bring the next big idea to market, I do so because launching startups is the key to job creation in our country and ultimately the key to our nation’s continued growth and prosperity.

That’s not just the opinion of a guy who happens to be an entrepreneur and teaches the subject. It’s simply a fact. Two thirds of the jobs created in the U.S. are created by small businesses. This claim has floated around for quite a while, and the problem is that the source, the Small Business Administration (SBA) defines a small business as having fewer that 500 employees. If we use that definition, 99.7% of all companies qualify.

But regardless of how we might choose to define the term, the creation of a small business of any kind creates jobs, and jobs and employment fuels our economy. It’s not just the huge companies starting to hire again following an economic downturn. It’s the entrepreneurs launching startups and adding employees only when absolutely necessary for the survival of the business. Being an entrepreneur means moving from receiving a paycheck to making a payroll – a pretty scary leap. Moreover it means that now other people are depending on you for their jobs – a serious responsibility.

I know a young entrepreneur here in Central Florida who launched his company two years ago, pretty much as a one-man band initially. Today he employs 9 people. Another friend worked in a music store and today owns two stores, each employing a handful of employees. That is why I’m so excited about entrepreneurship and why we all need to do everything we possibly can to support it.

So what can we do? Startups require capital, so the most obvious way to help is by providing it. Some people call us angel investors, but if you are reading this and thinking that you don’t have the resources, think again. Just consider the number of successful companies that began as Kickstarter, RocketHub or IndieGoGo projects. Supporting crowdfunding, especially in support of startups in your area, is hugely important. As I have mentioned in previous posts, this is a pivotal year for crowdfunding. Rules currently in development by the Securities and Exchange Commission in response to the JOBS Act will eventually transform crowdfunding and allow the general public to take an equity stake in new businesses, so watch for further developments there.

But the easiest way for you to help is by lending your expertise and support to entrepreneurs and startups in your area. Sharing your business expertise and experience with local entrepreneurs young and old is invaluable. Volunteer for your local SBA office. Help out at a local business incubator or accelerator. Find out what organizations in your area best support new business development and ask what you can do to help. Trust me – grass roots activism can make a huge difference in a community. And a community focused on entrepreneurial development and job creation has a bright future ahead.

Look for a job? I’d rather create one.

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