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Carl Schramm's State of Entrepreneurship Address

Posted by: Nick Leiber on January 19, 2010

For many entrepreneurs, 2009 was another year of slumping sales and frustratingly tight credit. Their expectations for this year aren’t shaping up to be much better. One big reason for this lack of optimism: uncertainty. Entrepreneurs are worried about how pending policy decisions will affect recovery, according to recent polls and conversations I’ve had with business owners from across the country.

So earlier this afternoon, when I watched a webcast on the state of entrepreneurship in the U.S. led by Kauffman Foundation head Carl Schramm held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., I brightened up a bit. Schramm, along with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, entrepreneurs Reggie Aggarwal (Cvent) and Mary Naylor (VIPdesk), and educator Frank Douglas (Austen BioInnovation Institute), acknowledged the need to reduce the uncertainty facing entrepreneurs and offered fixes for policymakers to consider.

During his half hour speech, Schramm proposed reworking the EB-5 visa program to favor founders, making some of the Sarbanes-Oxley rules optional for small companies at shareholders’ discretion, temporarily exempting businesses less than 5 years old from payroll taxes, making it easier for professors and students to commercialize research, and developing interest in entrepreneurship at a younger age (he cited the nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s success with high school students).

After Schramm’s speech, Locke spoke briefly about fostering the right kind of conditions for entrepreneurs, acknowledging that “too many of our brightest minds were busy engineering credit default swaps,” aiming solely for short-term gains. He urged policymakers to “start promoting the right kind of risk.”

Later, during the panel discussion, Schramm talked broadly about the need to recognize that small businesses, not large corporations, have created almost all of the net new jobs in the U.S. in the past 30 years. He urged policymakers to act on this “unspoken so” and target entrepreneurs.

Kauffman is posting an archived version of the address as soon as it’s available. You can also read Schramm’s speech, profiles of the three panelists, and the results from a poll released today.

Reader Comments

Bob Levin

January 19, 2010 6:53 PM

i agree with Schramm...

January 19, 2010 7:19 PM

I'm glad that they're thinking of ways to improve entrepreneurship moving forward. With the state of the economy, entrepreneurship is going to play a pivotal role in rebuilding our economy. Sooner or later a start-up is going to come along with the right business model to hire entry-level labor and senior-level executives. The key is to make sure that entry-level labor is a core focus because those are the people that are going to make an impact on the economy. They spend the money and make sure the money is changing hands and they have the motivation to stay with a company and move up in the ranks.


January 20, 2010 4:18 AM

Small business

1. Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.

2. The Center for Media Research has released a study by Vertical Response that shows just where many of these ‘Main Street’ players are going with their online dollars. The big winners: e-mail and social media. With only 3.8% of small business folks NOT planning on using e-mail marketing and with social media carrying the perception of being free (which they so rudely discover it is far from free) this should make some in the banner and search crowd a little wary…….

Susan Martin

January 20, 2010 10:08 AM

I like the way Schramm is thinking. It's time to start giving SMBs some concrete breaks and incentives to help them dig out of the hole and get this economy going again.

Carol Cross

January 21, 2010 3:11 PM

It would be instructive if speakers like Schramm would clarify what constitutes a "small business" under the law and policy and would illustrate examples of the job numbers produced by these small businesses in our economy.

If we are depending upon small businesses to jumpstart the economy, how do we overcome the known grim statistics that indicate that 50% of all small startup businesses fail sometime within the first five years?

Should we be making policy that ignores these statistics and be providing SBA subsidies and regulatory subsidies to Big Business and Small Business Franchisors who hope to become big business?

Can small business entrepreneurs really save an economy where so many good middle class jobs have been shipped out of the country and have not been replaced in kind?

Can small business entrepreneurs really provide the jobs to save us, even temporarily, from the effects of this deep recession?

Again, I object to policy making for "small business" that doesn't recognize that many franchisors (the entrepreneurs) are really BIG businesses who hope to gain from policies made to help small businesses.

Roger Kahn

January 21, 2010 7:08 PM

I’m pleased to hear about Schramm’s efforts. The unfortunate conditions of today’s economy have created far too many roadblocks for entrepreneurs. It’s something I see first-hand with entrepreneurs and small business owners on a day-to-day basis at my company - Intelligent Office of Garden City
. We provide an excellent alternative to traditional office space, offering office and conference rooms on an as needed basis and remote receptionist services at a fraction of what you would pay for traditional services. Every day I see these hard working individuals and hear their stories. If everything Schramm spoke about comes to fruition, we could be clearing the way for some of today’s best and brightest to begin making a difference in our world.


February 3, 2010 9:35 AM

I work around the eb5 investor visa and I am very interested to know, exactly, what Mr Schramm has in mind for it. Does he mean lowering the dollar figure attached to the visa, or easing the post investment criteria?

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What's it like to run your own company today? Entrepreneurs face multiple hurdles new and old, from raising capital and managing employees to keeping up with technology and competing in a global marketplace. In this blog, the Small Business channel's John Tozzi and Nick Leiber discuss the news, trends, and ideas that matter to small business owners. Follow them on Twitter @newentrepreneur.

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