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With the nation's ethics deteriorating in the wake of widespread corporate scandal, entrepreneurs need to examine questionable practices in their own milieu, such as inflating expectations to attract funding, writes the author. Included is a look at the unlikely course this former high-tech company founder has taken in order to adhere to principles.
As a child growing up in Chihuahua, Mexico, Cecilia Levine's English vocabulary didn't include "entrepreneurship," but she certainly could see the difference it made in people's lives. What she couldn't see then was how entrepreneurship would provide her with the tools, resources and passion to improve the lives of thousands on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.
Operating under a mandate to prepare for the worst in order to achieve the best, the author, an African-American woman entrepreneur in the male-dominated metals industry, writes that preparation has been critical to facing the challenges presented by the economic difficulties and post-terrorist environment of this difficult year 2001.
Doing business in the rough-and-tumble arena of underdeveloped countries involves adhering to global business basics, such as researching markets thoroughly, while coping with surprises, writes a veteran international entrepreneur who first took his company overseas three decades ago. In entering the "emerging markets," entrepreneurs need to keep close tabs on how (and if) they will be paid, as well as on local managers overly eager to make sales.
Selling your business is similar to raising capital. The difference: you're selling the whole company. Selling your company, like raising money, includes preparing the business plan, financials, cash-flow projections, and demonstration of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance practices.
Cost-effective “infrastructures” – both physical and legal – provide the essential platforms for the activities of all economies. In the physical realm, for example, it is hard to imagine life without roads, communications networks, airports, ports, sewer systems and electricity grids. Because of their “public good” nature, government plays a central role in financing, if not operating, such infrastructure facilities. In turn, because so much infrastructure is local, the planning and construction of many projects historically has been delegated to the states (although aided by federal financing).
Since the economic crisis broke out, capitalism has been under the microscope. Many have blamed evil businesses and market forces for the financial meltdown, and have lost confidence in private-sector engagement strategies for recovery. Luckily, in this country many more have experienced the positive impact of entrepreneurship either directly and indirectly. In a March 2009 survey, 63% of respondents said they “prefer giving individuals the incentives they need to start their own businesses as opposed to allowing the government to create new jobs directly.” A look at the role of new businesses in the economy reveals that it is not a matter of rejecting capitalism but rather of allowing more entrepreneurs into the economy.
We have long argued that the American model for development assistance could improve dramatically if entrepreneurship becomes a stronger element of economic development efforts. Unfortunately, the importance of new firm creation is a concept that has yet to gain relevance in traditional development models, such as the Washington Consensus. However, there are a few actors who understand the power of entrepreneurship and have been using it to improve lives. Diaspora entrepreneurs are using their experience and understanding about entrepreneurship to invest in new ventures in their country of origin. These transnational entrepreneurs view a globe of porous borders.
So we know that entrepreneurs are the primary engines of job creation in the United States. Research study after research study has confirmed that it is young firms that drive improvements in the employment situation. From 1980–2005, firms less than five years old accounted for all net job growth in the country. In 2007 alone, young firms (1-5 years old) accounted for nearly two-thirds of job creation. We also know more than half of the companies on the 2009 Fortune 500 list were launched during a recession or bear market, along with nearly half of the firms on the 2008 Inc. list of America’s fastest-growing companies. In light of all this evidence and in face of the employment crisis in the country, how can we truly support the entrepreneurs behind these young firms?
When President Obama will deliver his first State of the Union address is still unclear. However, with 80 percent of the population believing that new economic growth and jobs will come from entrepreneurs, discussion around what his address should include in terms of policies that encourage new start-ups is already underway.
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