Entrepreneurs: A Call to Arms
By Kabeia Rineakia Brock Sutton Allen
What if you woke up one day and entrepreneurship was dead? That’s the question posed by Shopify founder and CEO Tobias Lütke in a piece printed in the November 7th edition of the Economist. Using music as an example he prefaces, “Imagine the richness stripped from the planet. Would it be the end of the world? No. But it’s not the world I signed up for.” Bemoaning the increasingly low numbers of new business, Lütke cautions of a near halving in America alone since 1978. He cites the Fraser Institute which “compared 2001-07 with 2008-14 and found that startup creation dropped by 18.6% in America, 20.3% in Australia, 8.5% in Canada and 7.5% in Britain.” And it shows little sign of getting better since “Millennials are half as likely as likely to start a business as those over 50, according to Gallup.”
Yet this doesn’t seem merely be generation issue, with Brick and Mortar establishments disappearing for a while now. He laments the loss of the neighborhood butcher, baker, candlestick-maker at the hands of the big-box store. Fortunately, there’s light on the horizon and for Tobias, it comes from an unlikely source:
“Technology like augmented reality opens new entrepreneurship categories; starting a business is more accessible with new tech platforms, and the human desire for creative pursuits will grow as more jobs become automated. The first time in decades, entrepreneurship will soon be on the rise- if we work together to help it thrive.”
Ever practical, Tobias offers additional solutions for the many challenges that constitute the existential crisis of entrepreneurship. Advocating for a reduction in the barriers to entry for new businesses he cites how “in America, Mark Zuckerberg can start Facebook without asking, but can’t cut hair without government permission.” This reprioritization, he urges, needs to take place with “every player- governments, banks, technology providers” if they hope “to retain vibrant cities and boost employment.” Ultimately, he pleads, “We need to expand our entrepreneurship definition beyond Silicon Valley stereotypes.”
But as they say, where there’s a will there’s a way. The current legislative state is the result of an alarming public shift away from entrepreneurship and capitalism. For Lütke the reason is fairly topical: “to paraphrase Brad Sugars, you work 100 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week for someone else.” Dr. Richard Salsman in an article for Capitalism Magazine sees the decline in trust as far more of an existential crisis. For him, the blame lies with the unfaithful, believers in capitalism who have failed to fulfill our proselyting duties; those among us who have not sincerely espoused the morality of the system that has and continues to uplift humanity.
“Capitalists today, in sharp contrast, seem few and dispirited, and even if not unaware of its wonderful track record, nevertheless seem unable or unwilling to defend egoism and individualism. If you can’t defend capitalism morally and recognize that being moral means being egoistic, you’ll be ineffective; you may even facilitate the persistence of socialism.”
If you are unable to think of why capitalism has helped you, you need only think of what it is that you live for. If it is beauty, think of the grand galleries filled even to this day with pieces commissioned and maintained by patrons. If it is food, look to all the amazing varieties and services you have available around you. If you live to help others, remember all the good you can do with the innumerable charities and foundations that serve such needs.
But the moment you are tempted to think that government or regulation might simplify, make fair, or accessible whatever it is you seek in life, remember- that it is only done with the money taken from those businesses, those customers, those charities, and you; Money taken away from people who know what they need but won’t be able to spend it merely because to an entitled few if felt right or seemed fair. As Salsman admonishes, “If you endorse or condone socialism’s alleged “morality,” you ensure that we’ll suffer from its impracticality.”
So instead channel the spirit of that drives our nation. Embrace the All-American zeal of entrepreneurship and become an unapologetic capitalist. For as Tobias Lütke says, “that’s the beautiful thing about entrepreneurs… they don’t necessarily want to take over the world, just to carve out their corner of it. They’re reaching for independence.” As Dr. Richard Salsman asserts “Rational egoism is the essence of morality; individualism is the basis of respect among persons; capitalism enshrines both.”
So do your part. Seize the essence of morality, display the ultimate basis of respect. Not only is it for your own gain, but it is also the moral imperative of our times.