HERE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN more reasons not to be an entrepreneur than to be one.
No one knows better than our readers about the superhuman hours, the strain
on family, the repeated rejection, and, hanging over it all, the prospect of
failure. Danny Meyer, founder of Union Square Cafe, Shake Shack, and many
other well-known New York City eateries, is without question one of the great
business leaders of his generation. Yet even he waited nine years to launch a
second restaurant, convinced that his success with Union Square Cafe was a fluke.
That’s why it flabbergasts us at Inc. when national policy makes entrepreneurship harder than it already is. The Exit Interview that ends this issue
(page 120) is with Ayah Bdeir, the brilliant immigrant founder of littleBits,
a toymaker whose products inspire kids to engage in science and technology.
Let Us Now Praise
(and Then Let’s Worry About Tomorrow’s Pipeline)
In terms of national interest, that’s about as
noble a mission as any commercial business
could have. Yet even after founding her
company and hiring 45 employees, Bdeir
still lived in daily fear of being deported.
Yes, immigration is a complicated issue.
But a policy that drives away entrepreneurs
is not just conflicted; it’s also self-destructive.
That’s especially true when you consider
our plunging rate of business formation. As
editor-at-large Leigh Buchanan writes in “The
Vanishing” (page 54), startups’ share among all
U.S. businesses has declined about 44 percent
in the past three decades. Buchanan weighs
the possible explanations, which range from
slowing population growth (and hence a
shallower pool of potential entrepreneurs),
to a crowding out of small businesses by big
ones, to a young generation that—the Zuckerbergs and Blumenthals to the contrary—is
proving significantly less entrepreneurial
than Boomers were at the same age.
Whatever the source of the problem, it’s
clear that the solution lies with that same
generation. Statistics aside, it’s hard not to be
encouraged by Bdeir and the young founders
profiled in “Making Their Mark” (page 96),
who include 29-year-old Kegan Schouwen-
burg, creator of 3-D-printed orthotics for the
footsore, and the Irish-born Collison brothers,
John, 24, and Patrick, 26, founders of online
payments disrupter Stripe.
The only thing is, we need more of them.
You can define the entrepreneurial urge in
several ways: Carol Dweck of Stanford dubs
it “the growth mindset”; in “The Icons”
(page 24), Barbara Corcoran more colorfully
identifies it as when “it bugs you to work for
someone else.” Regardless, it can be as much
a curse as a blessing for those who have it.
But for the nation as a whole, there’s no
doubt at all: It’s a blessing. And those who
have it are any nation’s greatest resource.
EDITOR’S LETTER 10 - INC. - MAY 2015