November 6, 2012
It’s immensely difficult to begin a piece about the United States presidential platforms and entrepreneurship without a healthcare preface. The fact that there are more Americans without health insurance (around 48 million) than the entire population of Canada (34 million) is, to me, rather frightening.
To leave a job in the United States to attempt to become an entrepreneur involves a far greater risk than in other nations (here in Canada, for example, and in Sweden, which I know intimately), yet the US remains at least a metaphorical beacon of entrepreneurship.
In their convention speeches, each of the presidential candidates mentioned entrepreneurship. From where I sit, both candidates seem to understand that job creation is a priority in the United States, though they differ in how they approach this critical task.
At the risk of gross oversimplification, President Barack Obama has struck many observers as the voice of the entrepreneur and of startups (which I’ve long opined that we should, for a variety of practical and cultural reasons, go back to calling “small and medium businesses”), while presidential candidate Mitt Romney is the voice of larger businesses.
During the past four years, President Obama has been as open as any president in history to hearing the voices of entrepreneurs. Relatively small things, like his positive and active relationship with über-entrepreneur Shervin Pishevar of Menlo Ventures, signal his intent to match the needs of entrepreneurs to the needs of the nation. Shervin is one of the most positive and active champions of innovation and entrepreneurship in the world, so the fact that President Obama chose to cultivate a relationship with him speaks volumes.
The April 2012 passing of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act or JOBS Act, speaks to this assertion. The law, which was intended to encourage the funding of startups in the US by easing various securities regulations, passed with bipartisan support.
Conversely, the Startup Visa has yet to pass. This initiative ties directly into the notion of the United States as the land of opportunity, which, if it still is for non-American entrepreneurs, is stealthily disguised. The idea behind the Startup Visa is simple: enable non-Americans to work legally as entrepreneurs in the US, with the goal and result being job creation. To many (myself included) this makes perfect sense. However, this visa for job creators remains a movement rather than a law, and it’s an issue into which the media has yet to really sink its teeth.
In a superb, recent Inc. article on entrepreneurship, Bill Murphy Jr. asked: “What can entrepreneurs learn from the backgrounds of the two men running for the highest office in the land?”
As I’m sure we would all agree, the answer is “a lot.” It’s a piece that you really should read, as it points out how little background in entrepreneurship the 44 men who have served as American president have actually had, including the two current candidates. Romney is actually one of the notable exceptions, given his experience at Bain Capital.
Without regard to whether President Obama retains his office for the next four years or Mitt Romney becomes president, there is no doubt that entrepreneurs and the products of their work are the key to pushing forward an American economic recovery.
The next president needs to follow Roy Ash’s advice for all entrepreneurs: “An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll [sic] quickly learn how to chew it.”