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Entrepreneurs, Elections and Networking Events

November 19, 2012

Published here on October 30, 2012

Yesterday I spent three hours driving all over Raleigh to put posters up for my internship. I always knew Starbucks was a popular place, but let me tell you, the people of North Raleigh love them some Starbucks, and Panera Bread, too.

What are the posters for? One long networking event this month for local entrepreneurs and start-up owners. There will be pitching, seminars and loads of introductions in efforts that different people with good ideas end up together. Also, the start-up capital that some of them accrue will no doubt help the local entrepreneurial community.

It’s all nice. In fact, it’s much more than nice. The Triangle is one of the best places to start a new business, and has often been referred to as the “new Silicon Valley.” But let’s not fool ourselves.

What is arguably the biggest player when it comes to startup success? Hard work? Luck? Nah.

The government.

Yeah, as cliche as it sounds, our government has quite a hold on the future of any local business. Things like tax laws, grants and even the healthcare situation all have massive impacts on the success or failure of start-up companies. My boss recently complained to me about the ridiculously high taxes that entrepreneurs have to pay our government. She has every right to complain — a Carolina Journal article cited a study by economists Steven Kreft and Russell Sobel, stating that overall, North Carolina received a C- for its regulations and a D+ for its tax code. This is far from acceptable.

Entrepreneurship is important not just for job creation, but more so for innovation. I know you’ve heard it before, but it’s worth mentioning over and over again. Apple, Facebook and Microsoft were all started humbly by a few men with ideas. N.C. State recognizes this importance. Have you heard of the NCSU Entrepreneurship Initiative? If you’ve got an idea, go to them to turn it into reality.

I’ll stop preaching now. It’s time for specifics. What do entrepreneurs want from the upcoming election? According to an Inc.com article, the vast amount of small business CEOs want a stimulated economy, tax cuts and a balanced budget. What does that look like in the candidates?

Frankly, a balanced budget is just not an immediate option. For reasons that would fill up a Viewpoint article all on their own (maybe I’ll write that one next week), a balanced budget and a struggling economy are on very opposite ends of reality. Instead, both candidates are saying they’ll work towards a more sustainable deficit, one that’s not growing exponentially larger. They have different plans, but each plan works towards a more controlled deficit spending habit… Ten years from now, and far into the future. Even if Romney gets elected twice, that change won’t take effect until he’s gone completely.

Neither candidate has realistically proposed tax cuts. Obama wants to raise taxes on the upper class. Romney — and the Republican Party that tells him what to say — is in favor of lowering taxes, but he’s not naive enough to think that this won’t mean erasing at least a few tax breaks. And have you ever known the Republicans to get rid of those?

As for stimulating the economy, well, now we’re actually talking. Both candidates have spoken about their interest in helping start-up companies through bills like the JOBS Act. More entrepreneur-focused acts like this one are wonderful for local businesses. For all the talk that took place last election cycle, this act took place under Obama’s watch. I’m impressed.

To be honest, neither candidate is really that different when it comes to what entrepreneurs want out of a president. Which candidate is more likely to stick to all their pre-election promises? That’s another issue all to itself. We’ve got a choice between a president who failed to deliver on any promise relevant to the health of the start-up community and an Etch-A-Sketch governor who’s changed opinions so many times no one even remembers his original promises.

Honestly, it looks a little bleak. If a start-up business has not been able to do well during the past four years, I wouldn’t count on anything changing after this November.

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