By Bill Ryan
Entrepreneurism has a strong and positive brand... and it should. Its contribution to the growth of the economy and by extension to the betterment of lives is immeasurable. Counting the total costs of national goods and services only begins to calculate the value of entrepreneurial activity. A harder metric to identify, but no less important, is the qualitative significance of longer, healthier, and happier lives we collectively enjoy due to the innovation, risk taking, and intelligence of successful entrepreneurs.
It could be said that the popular image of the entrepreneur is the self-confident driven performer productively balancing inspiration and perspiration, flawlessly timing the market, persevering with a laser-like focus, and venturing forward willingly into uncertainty, all leading to the realization of sweet success and generous profits as a just reward. We value that illustration. It's reassuring. It goes a long way to shaping our national and cultural identity.
It is known too that start-ups with an eye toward growth furnish boosts in hiring, strengthened competition, and improved productivity by injecting fresh products, services, and business designs into new markets.
Given the near universal gains we receive from entrepreneurism what possible improvements can be expected from the practice? Well, I can suggest one. A quarter in which we desperately need entrepreneurs' creative problem solving is in the promotion of shared prosperity. The time is right for an entrepreneurism that cares less about concentrated wealth and more about dispersing capital, particularly to key stakeholders such as employees and citizens of communities in which businesses operate.
We don't need corporate social responsibility manifestos to get there, just energetic, woke, and engaged business owners who choose to direct their talents toward providing a greater degree of distributed benefits over the more common asset consolidation we more typically associate with entrepreneurs. An alternative form of enthusiasm and sense of reward can be derived from constructing enterprises that intentionally advance expanded economic growth and strong job creation among the greatest number possible.
The political pressure to confront wealth inequality is growing and looks to be a key issue in the upcoming election season. If the current trajectory of wealth amassing doesn't change the call for government intervention will only increase. Some or most of any governmental intercessions will undoubtedly be seen as interference and obstruction among many in business. Encouraging executives both young and old to integrate a shared prosperity ethic may mitigate policy making coercion.
It's not as if entrepreneurs and business leaders haven't practiced this approach before. It has been widely reported that the period from the end of World War II until the 1970s was more economically stable due largely in part to the relative lack of dissimilitude between management and rank & file. Granted this was a time of strong unions and more widespread political endorsement of income flattening approaches by government. However, one can't help but wonder if the shared sacrifice evident during the war spurred a nationwide value system whereby wealth distribution was more easily realized. Can we care for each other similarly now?
Perhaps the most endearing gift entrepreneurs give us is tangible creativity. They model and encourage thinking, which develops into options from which consumers can select the most solution-oriented or life augmenting potentialities. This has historically sparked human progress. It continues to do so. Given the current and ever-present range of problems in the world calling for answers and resources we look to the influencers, thought leaders, and groundbreakers to develop and implement transformative strategies, services, and products.
Purposely including and addressing those Americans being left behind by a shifting and segregating economy could turn out to not only be nationally unifying, but also good business.