As promised on Tuesday, here’s more from local entrepreneurs on the whole President Obama “You didn’t build that” brew-ha-ha.
(Yeah, we know it’s old news by now…)
Still, the president’s remarks stirred an ongoing debate about the role of government in private enterprise — how big should it be, what’s appropriate, and we got some reaction to them from local entrepreneurs. We thought we’d share them, and started Tuesday with a guest post from Aaron Stahl of Job Shadow.
Other entrepreneurs don’t share his perspective.
But first, here’s the text in question (not the full text from that particular stop, which we linked Tuesday, but the pertinent text):
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
Aaron had his turn on Tuesday. Now, let’s hear a vastly different perspective from Robyn Goforth of BiologicsMD (featured recently in Arkansas Business), a Virtual Incubation portfolio company and an IA client:
This illustrates the danger of taking sound bytes out of context. Quoting the transcript provided by the Office of the Press Secretary at the White House:
‘If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.’
This larger context has a radically different message than ‘If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that,’ that seems to be getting so much press. I might have said it differently — ‘You didn’t build that by yourself’ or ‘Somebody else helped make that happen.’ In the end, though, ‘The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.’
I wish more people (including our elected representatives and the news media) would take this to heart.
From IA alum Matt Price of Bourbon & Boots:
The statement has been taken out of context. Successful business owners will tell you that you can’t do it alone, you have to build a coalition of supporters to succeed.
Entrepreneurship/small business ownership does require a lot of hard work and drive to be self-disciplined. It can involve long days, long trips, and periods of time of doing both without pay so the company can survive. A successful entrepreneur/small business owner has a unique skill set that includes market savvy, tenacity, flexibility and the ability to think on your feet. Ultimately most small businesses rise or fall on the founder(s) and their willingness to cast a vision and see that it gets carried out.
That being said, very few entrepreneurs/small business owners can succeed based on their own abilities. We all have weak spots that we need others to point out or compensate for. Most of us also need assistance in the form of investment (VC, grants, loans), business advisers, strategic partners, various third parties (lawyers, CPAs, government) and encouraging friends and family. As one of my favorite quotes puts it: ‘Teamwork makes the dream work!’
So entrepreneurship/small business ownership is a balance of the two; the balance being dictated by the individual, their company and their industry.
Now, on to more important things, like the opening of fall camp….