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Why Don't Entrepreneurs Run For Office?

Cameron Cushman

In doing some research for these posts, I was reminded how few of our representatives come from entrepreneurial roots. In fact, almost 80 percent of the current United States Senate has been supported by the government (taxpayers) for their entire working lives. Lawyers make up 59 percent of the occupations of current U.S. Senators before they were elected to office. I guess this is no surprise, as they are competing for the title of “lawmaker” but when it comes to creating jobs and growing the economy, are lawyers really who Americans should be looking to?


At least among current U.S. Senators, I only found a few elected officials or candidates for elected positions that had started and run high-growth firms. But shouldn’t entrepreneurs make great candidates for office? Typically, successful entrepreneurs are good at raising money, good at selling themselves and good at convincing people to follow them and their ideas. Since the numbers of entrepreneurs who ever run for office are so few, this must mean that people with entrepreneurial backgrounds are not interested in seeking elected office. Here are a few reasons I think entrepreneurs aren’t interested in running for office, but I’d like to hear your feedback.


• Perhaps many entrepreneurs are too busy running their company (or companies) to get involved in politics.
• It is possible that they view all forms of government as potential impediments to their ability to build wealth and hire more workers.
• Politicians typically have lots of bosses and have to report to many voters and constituents. This is counter to one of the main reasons people become entrepreneurs—to be their own boss.
• We are all aware of the slow pace of change in Washington, which I imagine would be intolerable for people used to making quick decisions and implanting them immediately.
• In politics the financial incentives are usually fixed and smaller that in the private sector—or in one’s own company.


What do you think?

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