Thursday, August 14, 2008

Is Risk-Taking Still American?

America is long known as the entrepreneurial economy of the globe. But I must admit a questioning about the reality of this on a practical level. We are all aware of the concerns and obstacles that keep would-be entrepreneurs from making the leap in, but are these obstacles self-inflicted or endemic to the system?

At the risk of sounding preachy, consider a few examples of reasons people seek the "security" of big companies: lack of savings, keeping up with the Joneses, medical benefits, dental insurance (a.k.a. pre-paid dental), 401k/pension. I'll stop with there. Beyond that, I run the risk of getting really preachy.

The list is not meant to diminish the reality of these concerns, but are they individual or systemic? Despite its continued brand for a small business haven, I would contend that the system is shifting against the growth of small business and towards fostering the perception of security within corporations. When you take a step back from it, the system is structured towards the security of that paycheck and the benefits that come with it. One simple example that many entrepreneurs experience is the wrench thrown into a loan process (i.e. car or mortgage) when you can't simply throw your W2's on the table.

A recent post spoke about the balance sheet versus income statement mindset. This is exacerbated by a culture and a system structured around the latter.

To paraphrase Bono, this post is not a rebel post. It's simply an observation of the challenges that stand in front of entrepreneurs. If you are aware of the challenges, they are easier (not always easy!) to overcome. It also speaks to the importance of insuring you are on the same page with others that are impacted by the change (code for "spouse").

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