3 Key Things the Trump Administration Should Embrace

By: Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, The NIIC

As I write this, the nation is preparing for POTUS 45 to take office. Regardless of where you stand politically, I think we can all agree that there’s going to be a sea change. Change and a fresh approach are needed. Personally, I am excited about the future of entrepreneurship. We know there is a linkage between health insurance access and the level of entrepreneurship in a community. We know that if we meaningfully addressing business climate & competitiveness – taxation and regulation – it will fuel our innovation engine. Too often, U.S. federal policies talk a lot about the entrepreneur but rarely have their policies benefited the entrepreneur. Fixing health insurance is one of the most important catalysts to higher levels of entrepreneurship.

From my perspective as a leader in the entrepreneurial community, I’ve identified several key areas that President Donald Trump’s administration should embrace for the benefit of the 28 million small businesses in this country.

  1. It’s the entrepreneur, stupid. Popularized by President Bill Clinton when unseating President George W. Bush as “it’s the economy, stupid”, we must remember small businesses are the jobs and innovation the engine of our future. Burdensome regulation, unfunded mandates, excessive taxation and high expenses associated with having employees serve to undermine start-up rates and success. Over 23 million businesses are mom and pop and nearly 40 percent of all businesses will be solo-preneurs. This should remind us all that issues like the Affordable Care Act and immigration reform can impact small businesses’ day-to-day operations and their sustainability. Encouraging and inspiring higher levels of entrepreneurship and innovation should be at the core of our economic agenda. We need to address the systemic issues associated with why companies aren’t hiring employees and have turned to contingent workers.
  2. It’s about us and not me. We need to collectively abandon a silo mentality for a more collaborative and inclusive approach. Small businesses don’t operate in a vacuum and neither should government. A failure to understand the relationship between government oversight and small business challenges can be detrimental to the small business community, which depends on the government, in part, to support and enable their growth. There is a $50B+ credit gap in the U.S. today for small business. We need to lean into this problem to find ways to fill this void when 8,000 small business loans are declined every day.
  3. We must reinvent, re-imagine and experiment with our education system. Education is the key to our dominance on the world stage – economically, politically and socially. Instead of punishing school systems for illusory aspirations of so-called accountability through standardized testing and no child left behind, we need to embrace uncertainty and risk in creating a dynamic, inspirational and vibrant educational system that encourages the entrepreneurial mindset fosters innovation and nurtures intellectual curiosity. There is nothing more important to the success of our nation than a well-functioning and relevant educational system that affords choice, access and opportunity for our young people. We have driven all the creativity and innovation out of schools. This must change if we are going to solve quality of place, the standard of living and social issues. Instead of putting our educational system in a box, we need to give it more flexibility to respond to the mandate of preparing students for an uncertain future where the jobs and careers they will be exposed to haven’t even been created or imagined yet. In the infamous line of the movie Dirty Dancing, when Johnny said, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner,” we need to do and say the same thing about our educational system.

It is my hope that the new Trump administration will work diligently with thought leaders–from the broader entrepreneurial community–to advance and unify an entrepreneurial engagement agenda. After all, small business is the backbone of this country.Taking these first three steps – (1) fixing ACA, (2) creating access to capital programs with a strong technical assistance component to address the real growth and sustainability needs of entrepreneurs and (3) re-imagining our educational system – will foster a more robust entrepreneurial business ecosystem and a better climate for all Americans.


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