I hear some of the folks in Washington talking about creating jobs and I just cringe.
Obviously, out here in the private sector one does not “create” a job. We create businesses that solve problems. Some of those businesses require people to run them, service accounts, and build stuff. While there are businesses that don’t require many workers, that’s still OK, because the person who figured out how to do more with fewer employees goes out and buys a new flat screen TV, new garage doors, and upgrades the furnace.
Since I will not be invited to the upcoming White House jobs summit, I thought I would mail in a few of my suggestions:
1. Create an advisory Cabinet on jobs—er, business creation. Get Mark Cuban, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Scott Adams, and Seth Godin as members. Get them to commit to a month-long "Entrepreneur Tour" (move over Britney), during which they would give free but meaty seminars about how they made it and how you can too. Book the megadome because people would come out in droves. Make a movie out of it. And, make members of Congress attend two of these events. Maybe something will stick. All eighth graders get extra credit.
2. Give $100,000 to every proven entrepreneur. Qualification: Must have built at least one successful business before. Directive: Go build another one.
3. Support small businesses as much as you support the unemployed. Maybe then the unemployed could become the employed.
4. Want entrepreneurs to create some new businesses? We need to know the rules. What’s the impact of this cap-and-trade deal? We are waiting to find out. What's the fallout from the banking crisis? We will hold off on seeking new loans until that gets sorted out. And healthcare reform? Will I be able to run my new business and afford the new requirements? I am waiting.
5. New business tax plan. If you start a business in the next year, there will be no taxes when you sell it. Zero capital gains tax. None. Zero. Same deal if you invest in one. But you have to hold it for two years.
6. Provide incentives for neighborhood groups and angel networks to offer funds for startup businesses. These are the people now funding raw startups, since most venture capital firms don’t invest in new ideas any longer. (Wal-Mart should be guilted into matching 20 percent of every dollar raised this way. After all, they single-handedly destroyed most of small-town retail environments.)
7. Every chief executive who comes before Congress to request help in any manner should be fired immediately. This might end the race to the money spigot.
8. Ask Glenn Beck, Keith Olbermann, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Joy Behar, and Bill O’Reilly to attend a three-day seminar on "How to Improve Your Manners." They are setting an ugly tone.
9. Generally speaking, instead of rules, regulations, and restrictions—think about incentives.
10. Don’t demonize business. Sure, throw the book at Madoff, but celebrate the people who have made it work fairly, honestly, humbly, and unselfishly. Too many young people grow up hearing only bad things about businesses and the people who run them.
11. Elevate the national discourse. Given how low it's fallen, we need someone besides Jon Stewart to really embarrass some people. Where is Will Rogers when you need him?
I am sure you have some ideas too. We’d all like to hear them.
G. L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, which operates LinkUp, one of the fastest-growing job search engines. His blog can be found at WhatWouldDadSay.com.