By BILL WARNER, special to LTW
Editor’s note: Bill Warner writes “The Angel Connection” which is a regular feature in WRAL Local Tech Wire. LTW asked consultant Bill Warner to share advice for entrepreneurs seeking angel investors and/or venture capital investment. He is chairman of the , an angel investor network with members throughout the Southeast.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Sometimes I just sit back in my chair and yell at the ceiling. "What the blazes are we doing in this economic recovery?"
We are making no progress and simply growing the government sector that produces nothing that represents lasting economic growth. The administration and Congress are deploying ideas that have not ever worked, both in this country as well as Europe and others.
I am no economist or expert in government, but a key part of the solution seems so apparent to me. We need to foster new business growth by taking the actions necessary to create new businesses through a revitalization of entrepreneurship in America. At the heart of American jobs and economic success is the small business. We need to be doing the things that create lasting viability of small businesses and enable them to prosper.
There’s a good article on this in Inc. called Take a look at it each of the 16 steps for revitalization and see if you agree. The ideas are quite doable but don’t go far enough:
• Entrepreneurship should be taught in our high schools, community colleges and universities. We need a new mindset that reflects that going into business for yourself is a fine undertaking, but we need to teach our young people how to do it for real. This would be a monumental undertaking by our school systems, requiring leadership that can make it happen.
Incubators are fine, but they have to be staffed by real business people that can tap into the entrepreneur’s local community. We need to go beyond the limits of incubators and provide pervasive mentoring for entrepreneurs. We need to tap into the wealth of business knowledge that resides with senior business people.
Thanks to medical science, we live well into our 70’s, leaving many years for retired business people to coach and mentor entrepreneurs. We have a wealth of knowledge that can be put to work to mentor aspiring entrepreneurs. Take a look at , an organization that is trying to foster mentorship.
• Government needs to get out of the way, but also enable the way. A partial list of what is needed is as follows:
1. Provide tax credits for business investment.
2. Reduce the capital gains tax, if not eliminate it all together.
3. Reduce taxation on business. We are the second most highly taxed nation in the world, and people wonder why businesses leave the US. Watch the economy flourish at a 15% tax rate on businesses.
4. Reduce and eliminate non-productive regulation; including Sarbanes Oxley, OSHA, FDA, healthcare, banking and environmental to name a few that add tremendous cost to business operations.
5. Free up angel investor organizations and micro-angel funds from caps on their returns and fees. In addition to grants, this is where the seed money for businesses comes from.
6. Government backed education loans for small business programs, but phased out once the private sector can finance this.
7. In addition to grant programs provide equity investment in early stage companies
• All tax reduction actions have to be coupled with government spending reductions. A task that should be quite easy by laying a copy of the Constitution next to the budget and start making cuts to all those things that government should not be involved in.
• A tremendous economic boost would come from effective action to become energy independent by aggressively exploiting our own oil and gas capacity nationwide. Watch the price of energy drop if we did that; further accelerating company profits.
Basically, we have to let Americans do what they do best. Innovate. Our uniqueness lies in our freedom and an economy based on capitalism. Sure, we make lots of mistakes and the going is rough, but it sure beats any other alternative I have seen from any other country or society ever.
About the author: Bill Warner is the Managing Partner of , a business consulting firm in the Research Triangle Park area of central North Carolina, is the chairman of the , an angel investor network with members throughout the southeast, and is the Executive Director of at Twitter.