Driving through San Francisco’s financial district in bumper to bumper traffic, I noticed flowers on the sidewalk in front of what I thought was a florist store. However, as I slowly passed by, I noticed it wasn’t a typical florist store of bricks and mortar. The “store” was simply a small wood structure pressed inside an alcove between two skyscraper buildings. This entrepreneur stuck between granite buildings that employ thousands in high finance, somehow figured out how to set up a small florist business conveniently located for all the people in this district. This individual epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit that will lead this economy out of a seven-year stagnant recovery. Imagine the challenges she must have faced meeting San Francisco’s strict regulatory environment of building codes and business ordinances, not to mentioned approval from the building owners. Yet, somehow here she is selling flowers to a captive audience in downtown San Francisco.
It has been seven long years for many Americans since the “Great Recession” as household income continues to decline due to persistent high numbers of either unemployment or underemployment. Earlier this month, we wrote about how the US Department of Labor Bureau reported that the unemployment rate plunging to 4.7% from 5% in April, due to 664,000 people leaving the workforce which is more than every man, woman, and child in the state of Vermont. with non-farm payrolls increasing by a mere 38,000 vs. the expected 162,000.
In early 1970 my father was laid-off from Fairchild Semiconductor. The economy was in its fourth year of a secular bear market and not much better than today with rising unemployment and inflation. To support three kids and a recently purchased home, Dad started mowing lawns and doing whatever odd jobs people needed to be done around their home to earn a living. As the oldest, Dad would have me work with him on many weekends. A few months later Fairchild re-hired him only to lay him off again a few months after that. Fortunately for us, Dad never stopped doing odd jobs so when the second layoff came he didn’t lose any momentum with his self-employed business. Over the years, “Odd Jobs of Marin” became “Bayer Construction” remodeling and building new homes in Northern California that not only provided for his family of six kids but many others as employees of his company. After high school, I earned my California Contractors license, bought my first home at 19, and have remodeled many more homes since.
The future of the US economy is dependent on more people choosing to “earn a living”. Admittedly being an entrepreneur is not easy or for everyone. But entrepreneurs are the business sector that changes the course of stagnant cycles of slow growth and high unemployment. Entrepreneurial small businesses are the largest employer sector in the country representing 53% of US workers, and there are over 30 million small businesses in America. Small businesses account for 64% of all newly created jobs in 2012 and 70% of new job creation for the past decade.
“Small businesses account for 64% of all newly created jobs in 2012 and 70% of new job creation for the past decade.”
The future of America is dependent on more people like my father who chose to work and especially if they chose to become an entrepreneur. In part 2, I will be spotlighting one of my favorite entruprenuerial moments in American history. As the distinguishly quotable Edmund Burke once said, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
Let’s make a new path,