Entrepreneurs need to be more politically engaged. When we think of regulatory hurdles that entrepreneurs face, we think about Uber and Airbnb. But outdated policies affect startups in every industry, including banking, healthcare and transportation.
According to a 2013 survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, government regulation and red tape affected more than 22 percent of small-business owners. This percentage is up from 8 percent in 2008. Running into regulatory hurdles is as overwhelming as it is defeating for an entrepreneur.
I couldn’t stop thinking about this while watching the Republican presidential candidate debates. There were no topics geared toward entrepreneurs — but why would there be? We are all too busy to talk with policy makers.
As an entrepreneur, while you’re running at full pelt building a team, refining the product and gaining funding, punitive regulations might get in the way of growing the business. It doesn’t matter how innovative or life-changing your invention is — regulations can stop your growth dead in its tracks.
On the other side of the coin, there are awesome policies and laws that can advance entrepreneurship and bring forth incentives for business for new business owners. Look at the opening of crowdfunding in the Title II Jobs Act in 2013. We saw $16 billion crowdfunded in 2014.
We need dynamic policies in place. Entrepreneurs need to be able to contact officials on the local, county, state or even global level and tell them that they’ve hit a roadblock. And they need to feel confident that the lawmakers are listening to their needs.
Some entrepreneurs have success calling up their local representatives, but the truth is, small-business owners are the most effective at influencing policy when they’re working together.
Technology is the great equalizer — but it can only take us so far when outdated regulations are in place.
Every entrepreneur has the same goal: to be profitable and have loyal customers, and I’m a firm believer that there’s enough business out there for everyone with a worthy product to be successful. So it’s time we put aside the competition and join forces through networks like Entrepreneurs UNite. Through collective action, small-business owners can work with a community of like-minded individuals who have the same policy goals as they do.
When entrepreneurs come together as advocates, it’s a beautiful thing. We’ve seen that with crowdfunding laws that have passed in many states across the country. Though crowdfunding laws vary from state to state, in each case, these policies have been a funding pipeline for entrepreneurs who are in need, a golden opportunity if you will. There’s no doubt in my mind that those laws wouldn’t have passed if it wasn’t for local business communities banding together and pushing for reform.
There’s enormous long-term potential for our generation’s visionaries when we give them funding. Outside of the U.S., we saw this with the formation of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), which helps small, early stage companies raise equity finance by offering tax relief to individual investors in the U.K.
Likewise, the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) was created to help smaller higher-risk trading companies raise money by offering a range of tax incentives to investors who purchase shares in those companies. Tax incentives like these are exactly what entrepreneurs need as they’re building their business.
Aside from joining networks such as Entrepreneurs UNite and having more options to raise capital, there’s one potential game changer for entrepreneurs worldwide in terms of policy: Goal 8, which would push governments to prioritize federal appropriations, tax incentives, immigration reform among other initiatives for the betterment of businesses.
Outdated policies affect startups in every industry.
Goal 8 has the potential to be a major global initiative for the next 15 years as the United Nations approved its Sustainable Development Goals on September 25. This is the first global roadmap for helping entrepreneurs scale, and a coup for entrepreneurs everywhere. Goal 8 is the kind of leadership we need to meet the goal of having 600 million jobs over the next decade.
It’s in our best interest to make small-business owners a top priority in the years ahead. Between progressive policies and networks like Entrepreneurs UNite, we can help entrepreneurs scale globally to create the jobs the world needs. We’ll be able to push forth the greatest innovations of our time.
Technology is the great equalizer — it enables human potential, in the words of my mentor Michael Dell — but it can only take us so far when outdated regulations are in place. To progress on a global scale, we need to advocate together. Because, like a first-time parent who calls upon friends and family to raise a child, entrepreneurs will also find strength in numbers. Let’s start speed dating with policy makers. Send them an email on what you need. Or utilize the hashtag #EntrepreneursUNite to share ideas on policies that will help you scale.