In July, I launched my own small business after having been summarily laid off from my 37 year career in corporate America (thanks, Bain & Company). While I could claim full credit for having built my little enterprise all by myself, I couldn't have done it without [gasp!] help from the government and a bunch of other entities.
Yes, it's starting small: just me, my iPhone, and my laptop, working out of my house. No, I didn't build the house. I didn't build my laptop, my iPad, my iPhone, or my printer/scanner/copier. I didn't make the coffeemaker that fuels my work day. I didn't grow, roast, and grind the coffee beans.
I'm on the Internet all day. I didn't build that. I didn't build the phone system either, or ensure that I had a fast enough broadband connection to ensure that a household full of phones, iPads, laptops, and other gizmos could all operate simultaneously. My web site can exist in the world thanks to Internet standards and software.
Someone established the electronic standards that allow all these gizmos to interact with one another, share information, and keep track of all my e-mail, calendars, contacts, files, and documents. I can't take any credit for creating the software that I use every day without even thinking about it.
I didn't supply my home with electricity, water, sewer service, gas, or cable. I didn't construct and monitor my security system. I didn't build the street where my house is situated, nor any of the roads that I drive on when I go out to get office supplies or drop off a Fedex shipment. I don't run the US Postal Service, Fedex, or UPS. I don't run the office supply store. I didn't build the airports that enable me to meet with clients in person. I don't fly the planes. I don't manage the hotels.
When I launched my business, I incorporated it and registered it as a foreign corporation in the states where I plan to do business. State governments oversee the operation of corporations. I filed with the IRS as an S Corporation, and manage by business in compliance with federal and state tax regulations.
The federal government and state governments also promulgated and enforced regulations that require my prospective clients to undertake certain actions that trigger a need for my services. Sure, some of them might step up and spend millions of dollars that could otherwise go to capital improvements, bonuses, or stock dividends without being compelled to do so by government agencies. Most, though, are responding to regulatory drivers.
Some of these clients are also government contractors, so the money they'll be using to pay for my services comes from goods and services that they sell to our government. Redistribution of wealth? Maybe. I'm okay with that.
Before becoming a member of Mitt's dreaded 47%, I paid my income taxes and contributed to Social Security and Medicare, and was grateful to be able to do so. I ploughed back plenty of my earnings into social, medical, and environmental causes that were important to me. Money, like manure, must be spread around to have any positive effect.
Mitt would rather park his money in offshore accounts while his campaign churns out "Believe in America" bumper stickers (no doubt printed in China). Sadly, many American corporations and banks would rather just hold the cash on their balance sheets than hire more workers or lend money, citing "uncertainty".
When I launched my business, there was plenty of uncertainty. Would any of my prior clients be interested in my services? Would I be up and running before I ran out of severance pay and unemployment? Could I parlay my niche expertise into a profitable business? My husband's employer was in the midst of a merger: what if he lost his job and the benefits on which we both relied?
Mostly, though, I was absolutely certain that with my expertise, my connections, my tenacity, and my entrepreneurial abilities, I had as good a chance as anyone to succeed. The clients I've contacted are enthusiastic about my new venture and I'm in discussions with two of them on contract terms. I wake up every morning knowing that the hard work I've put in over the years is paying off.
I didn't build it myself, but my company is open for business. I'll keep you posted on my progress.