From Dave Pollard
How To Save The World
Six steps to sustainable, community-based Natural Enterprise, from my book Finding the Sweet Spot
I’m in Denver for the weekend at the annual conference of BALLE, the international network of community-based sustainable businesses. The reason I’m here is more about looking for ideas than personal networking. One of the mandates I’ve taken on in my current work is to make our association (the Chartered Accountants of Canada, equivalent to CPAs in the US) champions of entrepreneurship and of new, sustainable enterprise formation.
The reason we’re championing entrepreneurs is that no one else will. It’s an interesting paradox that the North American economy is driven by entrepreneurs (virtually all new net employment in the last decade has been in the entrepreneurial sector), not by big corporations, but all the money and attention flows to the big corporations. Entrepreneurs don’t get bailouts, massive incentives to locate in your community, or big unpublicized government subsidies. Universities say they teach entrepreneurship but what they do is the minimum (‘intrapreneurship’) lip service to get big corporations to fund ‘chairs in entrepreneurship’ that let them hire and retain professors. Economic Development Offices of governments at various levels are designed to attract businesses (i.e. property and business tax revenues) so their work for entrepreneurs is mostly low-budget, low-value work like providing names of lawyers and accountants and telling you how to get business licenses, incorporate and file taxes.
Accountants and lawyers (especially the smaller ones) will take on entrepreneurs as clients, but generally are unenthusiastic and not terribly helpful for businesses at the critical start-up stage. Bankers (with the notable exception of credit unions) generally avoid entrepreneurial businesses, and lenders of last resort are usually vultures who create more problems for entrepreneurs than they solve. BALLE founder Michael Shuman has written about these challenges in his book The Small-Mart Revolution.
What’s worse, in some progressive circles, the very word ‘entrepreneur’ is suspect — it’s almost as if profit and enterprise are considered necessarily exploitative.
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