🛠 Entrepreneurs: Why America Will Fail Without Them

The relationship between America and its entrepreneurs can perhaps be best described using this professional photo:

When entrepreneurship dies, it will take America with it.

Over the past 30 years, the number of startups created has been declining steadily. However, in 2008, as a result of the Great Recession, the startup rate reached a grave limit. According to the United States Census Bureau, the birth rate of new businesses dropped below the death rate of new businesses.

Put more simply: since 2008, American businesses are now dying faster than they are being born. According to an article written by Gallup CEO Jim Clifton, “startups outpaced business failures by about 100,000 per year.” However, over the past six years, the net number of business closures has outpaced startups by about 70,000.

Gallup also reported that although many credible sources try to say there are 26 million businesses in the US, only 6 million of them are active, have sales, profits, customers, or workers.

Jim Clifton stated, “Let’s get one thing clear: This economy is never truly coming back unless we reverse the birth and death trends of American businesses.”

Incredible advancements in technology take place everyday in America. The problem is, new technology and innovation alone can’t pull us out of such a hole. Yes, invention and competition will help create opportunity, but it’s going to take people creating businesses behind that technology in order to reverse our current trend.

Long live the entrepreneur! Isn’t it interesting that the entire essence of the American economy rests on the back of one group of people? The entrepreneurs — the ones who have the guts to actually do what they have always dreamed of.

Jim Carrey once said, “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” As a university student, I see so many talented young people working themselves to death to reach a certain GPA, perfect their interview skills, and look their best so they can kiss the keister of some guy in a suit and beg him for a job.

But if you ask everyone of these students what their ultimate career goal is, how many of them would say, “Work a hundred hours a week to help someone else make money.” In essence, that’s what their career path consists of. Blood, sweat, and tears to build someone else’s dream. Although that sounds like a blast, I’d rather spend my blood, sweat, and tears building MY OWN dream.

I will be the first to say that being a founder, entrepreneur, etc. is not for everyone. Furthermore, we need both types of people! There are lots of people who are happy making a modest living working for someone else and living comfortable lives. There is nothing wrong with that. But my worry is that too many people are choosing to build someone else’s dream rather than their own. Too many, young people especially, are too fearful of the future to take the risks necessary to go after their own ambitions.

Young college-age adults are the prime age group for launching their own startup. Here’s why:

  • They have nothing to lose (literally for a lot of them).
  • They have their entire lives to make up for the consequences of failing.
  • They can learn more from the startup journey than almost any classroom.
  • They are surrounded by some of the best and brightest people in the world on their college campus.

We’ll have more about this topic in a later post, but it is absolutely true. Let’s let the less-ambitious get their CPA and do audits the rest of their lives. Let’s let the less-ambitious work 100 hour weeks trading someone else’s money. But most importantly, let’s let the more-ambitious create, build, innovate, invent, and chase after the craziest ideas, goals, and companies.

I recently heard an academic faculty member say this, “The problem is, everybody just wants to be the next Mark Zuckerberg.” I challenge anyone to explain to me how THAT is a problem. In essence, this woman was arguing, “The problem is, everybody just wants to make an incredible company that changes the world, generates billions of dollars, and employs tens of thousands people.”

I may not want to be Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, or Jim Carrey, but I do want to have the courage that they did to do what I love and build a life and company around it. Entrepreneurs should be viewed as heroes. They truly are real-life super heroes. The duty and responsibility of saving the American dream and economy is theirs. Who will step up?