This is a continuing series called Apple Pie Economics about the deliberate forces and unhappy accidents that are getting in the way of us living up to our entrepreneurial potential. Right now, we’re talking about the problems. Later, we’ll talk about solutions. Part 1 is here.

There are real obstacles that keep would-be business starters on the sidelines.

  1. No Good Health Insurance. There is no market or options for reliable, affordable health insurance for an entrepreneur, her family or her employees – that makes starting a business a life or death decision.
  2. Life Without a Net. Failure could mean devastation for the entrepreneur and her family, because there is no safety net unless she comes from money.
  3. A Rigged Game. Regressive, unrealistic government policies build moats around older and bigger companies or, worse, give a competitive advantage to companies in other countries.
  4. Scarce Funding. Startups have a steep and winding hill to climb to get funding. And there is almost no equity infrastructure for smaller-dollar investments.
  5. Hidden Laws and Regulations. There are many hidden regulations, too complex to understand or too illogical to find – except by mistake, great expense or prosecution.
  6. Overpriced or Predatory Lawyers. The legal profession is led by Big Law, the 100 or so distributed multi-disciplinary law firms that take up much of the commercial and editorial oxygen. Big Law (of which I am a member) is expensive and operates under a 19th century model. Unwilling to truly reinvent and re-engineer, my profession has imposed rates and internal incentives that drive up prices, making legal services a luxury or the province of the already-rich.
  7. Employee Mindsets. The focus – in policy, schools and news – is about getting a job for someone else. Instead, we need a severe readjustment in our American mindset about the benefits of entrepreneurship, the importance of innovation, free thought and designing our present and future, rather than the allure of safety and stability. In the meantime, we’re losing time, concrete, credibility and our edge.

Each of these problems is deep and profound – and fixable. Solutions are feasible and achievable. Identifying the problem is the first step.

Next Up: Why Laura Quit


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