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Lack of Entrepreneurs Revisited

I wrote an article for the Observer in 2010 entitled “Where Have All of the Young Entrepreneurs Gone?” It identified my observation that it seemed the younger generation lacks interest in becoming entrepreneurs.

Folks, this trend has not improved. Recent headlines like “Fewer US Entrepreneurs Willing to Create New Businesses” and “Three-Month Average of Job Creation Plummets” illustrate my worry because everyone knows that small businesses historically create the most jobs and build wealth for our nation.

n our commercial real estate business we are highly dependent on small business success and growth. These businesses rent in our small strip centers and office buildings, provide tenants for our multifamily properties, and eventually buy in our single-family home developments to pay taxes that give us the community amenities we like.

Most of us in the Society of Exchange Counselors prefer to work with small business owners and individuals. We can get to the principals directly and counsel effectively, which improves the chance of success for our clients and our personal incomes. Not many of our group prefers to work with large corporate clients where the officer we spend time counseling turns out to not be the real decision maker.

Most of us speculate about the reasons why entrepreneurial initiative is waning. These include:

  • Too much government regulation

  • Uncertainty about Obamacare

  • More stringent banking laws making it harder to obtain loans

  • General anti-business attitude of current Administration

  • Higher starting wages and benefits that reduce competitive desire.

However it may be that we have just allowed certain attitudes and enthusiasm for the small entrepreneur to be discouraged, not encouraged.

For the last couple years I have been asked to talk to the local University of Nebraska at Kearney Entrepreneurial Class. I was surprised to learn that in the Business Department the “Entrepreneurial” class is an elective in the last two years of a degree program. Both of my sons have Business Degrees from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and they both say that they did not have an “Entrepreneurial” class. I don’t understand why “Entrepreneurism” isn’t taught as a basic component in a Business degree?

My experience is that college juniors and seniors have never heard stories of people in their own communities that started successful businesses. The stories they hear are about Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. They never hear or think about the real estate broker or appraiser that started their own company, the insurance agent that set up his own agency, or the young guy that started bussing tables at a Country Kitchen but grew to own a national franchise restaurant chain because of the goal he set for himself early on. We should be talking about these stories in junior and senior high schools.

Each of us needs to make ourselves available to talk with young people and potential entrepreneurs. We all have stories to tell and between all of the ups and downs, success and failures, being self-employed can be very satisfying and profitable. It also is very important to our business and our nation.

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