Entrepreneurship Rhetoric vs. Action in Washington
Venturebeat.com had an interesting guest column last week by Jeff Bussgang, a General Partner at Flybridge Capital Partners. In “Who will champion entrepreneurship in Washington?” Bussgang reflects on President Obama’s speech on Iraq, where he declared that “Our most urgent task is to restore our economy and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work…We must unleash…innovation…and nurture the ideas the spring from our entrepreneurs.” The writer then points out that despite the obvious data and the presidential rhetoric, we are not seeing policymakers pushing legislation forward.
So here’s what I don’t understand. If everyone, including the president, believes that supporting innovation and entrepreneurship is the best path forward, why aren’t the policy leaders taking action? Thomas Friedman of the NY Times has been hammering on this issue for the last year, calling on the president to “launch his own moon shot” and make innovation and supporting the start-up economy his top priority.
First, let’s review the data. The Kauffman Foundation did a comprehensive study of historical job creation and, not surprisingly, found that small businesses are the main source. “Without startups,” writes Senior Fellow Tim Kane, there would be no net job growth in the US economy. This fact is true on average, but also true for all but seven years for which the US has data going back to 1977.”
It’s worth reading the article in its entirety. It outlines some policy ideas that have been proposed lately but are stagnating due to a lack of leadership, such as making it easier for immigrants to start companies in the US, an idea backed by the Start-Up Visa movement.
The amazing thing to me is that none of these ideas – and many others floating around the entrepreneurial community – require big dollars. Instead, they require big leadership. Where is that leadership going to come from? Who will be our champion for entrepreneurship? Ted Kennedy played this role in health care. Who will step up and be the champion for entrepreneurs?
The author proposes a few other ideas, such as creating a special Bipartisan Commission on Entrepreneurship, and changing the president’s lunch list to include leading thinkers in entrepreneurship and innovation.
What are your ideas for championing entrepreneurship in Washington?