Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Entrepreneurial Challenge

2010 has just begun, and depending on who you talk to, we're either still in the Great Recession, or it recently ended. Either way, there are millions of people in the U.S. and around the world who will remain unemployed or underemployed even after the economy recovers. As a society, we have both a moral and economic imperative to help these people get back on their feet. As a country, the U.S. can't survive with a hollowed-out manufacturing base, and having Wal-Mart or McDonald's as employers of last resort helps no one.

I believe that the end of the Great Recession presents a tremendous opportunity for individuals who want to start their own businesses. For many people, entrepreneurship will represent their best, or even their only, means of getting back on their feet financially. The challenge for those of us who have spent most of their careers in Silicon Valley and other entrepreneurial centers is to bring that startup culture to people who need it.

We've got the tools to spread ideas quickly and inexpensively; we need to use them to encourage new businesses, no matter where they're located. We also need to adapt our philosophy and techniques to the needs of entrepreneurs outside the major technology and business centers. It's far more likely that these new entrepreneurs will start a restaurant than a software company, and very few of them are ever going to have a business that's likely to go public. We need to help them build sustainable, profitable businesses that will allow them to make a good living and support themselves and their families.

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