A note from our editor, Elizabeth MacBride:
One of the strangest things about the work on small business and entrepreneurship I’ve been doing in the United States for the past few years is that people in the wealthy classes and the tech world don’t believe it. As government policies and business culture have shifted to favor large businesses, the number of firms being created each year is declining, companies are getting older, and today’s entrepreneurs (women and people of color) have a harder time raising capital. But the news is so good in the tiny tech part of the economy (only about 1% of startups receive VC funding) that it obscures the truth for the other 99%.
Yet, the business world may be beginning a slow reckoning with how the past few decades’ obsession with size and technology has likely made the U.S. economy less dynamic — which in turn is critical because a dynamic economy enables people to build wealth and move between classes.
Harvard Business Review’s Thomas Stackpole reviewed a handful of recent business book releases this month, running down a list that sounds like the usual suspects: books about Jeff Bezos, WeWork, Tencent, and an analysis of unicorn companies.
Myths are fun to read about, he notes. And then Stackpole lands on the book I wrote with venture capitalist Seth Levine, The New Builders.
“The authors argue that while tech stars hog the spotlight, small-business entrepreneurs—especially Black, brown, female, and older founders—make up a significant portion of the U.S. economy and run companies that operate in and benefit their communities. And yet “our systems of finance and mentorship have failed to keep up,” so entrepreneurship and economic opportunity are declining.”
“There’s nothing wrong with obsessing over what leads to success,” Stackpole writes. “We can learn a lot from stories of how others achieved great things. The trick is not to take the wrong lesson. Myths may contain seeds of truth, but they’re often mostly fairy tales. Can you tell the difference?”
I’m proud to be the co-author of the myth-busting book in that rundown. It reminded me of what Gene Roberts, the legendary editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and a journalism school professor of mine at the University of Maryland, said about how to be a good journalist. When the crowd heads in one direction, you go in the other.
Like last week, the first person who responds to this email with their address will get a free copy of The New Builders! Elizabeth
Times of Entrepreneurship Stories of the Week
There Were 113 Gun Incidents in Schools Last Year. A North Carolina Pastor Developed a Grassroots App To Help
Jim Boyte, who also works as a software developer, has already signed on 51 schools.
THE HUB: Top Black And Brown VCs; A Hyperspectral Technology Backed by Reid Hoffman; And What Happens When All The Small Business Owners Retire?
Ten seasoned investors join forces to create a $50 million fund for underrepresented venture capitalists. Plus: LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman, through the venture network Village Global, gets behind a camera startup capable of sending high-quality footage from space. And the number of business owners planning an early retirement doubled since last year.
Commentary: Why Entrepreneurs Are Defying Nigeria’s Twitter Ban
Companies are using VPNs to keep sales going. Twitter is a uniquely powerful platform, they say.
How An Doctor-Turned-Founder Learned Three Keys To Agency
The dramatic surgery that helped Amr El-Tayeb learn how to create an environment where innovation could thrive, for himself and his employees. Will you be prepared for failure, and know in your heart that you can recover from it?
You may have missed: Commentary: A Lack Of Diversity Among Clinical-Trial Regulators Puts Women’s Lives At Risk Slow-tracking solutions that can save women’s lives has tragic consequences around the world. Dr. Mary Gunn, COO of Health Decisions and a YPO member, sheds light.
You may have missed: Commentary: Employee Ownership Is An Untapped Weapon Against Income Inequality It will be up to the states to make it easier for businesses to create owner-employees. Kerry Siggins, CEO of StoneAge, and a member of YPO, offers insight.
Living the Dream
Best practices: Learn about building multi-generational wealth through a career in technology and celebrate the opening of the New Orleans Opportunity Hub. This year, the Juneteenth celebration includes a virtual summit, and an official Shark Tank casting call. Speakers include the Foundry Group’s Seth Levine and Times of E‘s Elizabeth MacBride, co-authors of The New Builders. RVSP here.
Buzzworthy: Many of us have taken a Myers-Briggs test as part of the job interview process—without really knowing the unusual origins of the assessment. The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing offers a close look at how it became ubiquitous. It’s not a new book but with the employment market opening up again, it’s worth reading.
The 4.5 hour workweek : A productivity hack
Okay, this isn’t exactly healthy but if you’ve ever wondered how to make sure your entire tub of movie theater popcorn is buttered evenly, you may want to try TikTok user Colleen Lepp’s hack when you’re ready to return to a cinema near you. Hint: It involves a plastic soda straw.
Made in the U.S.A.
Stocking up your tackle box? Check out Water Gremlin’s classic fishing sinkers before your next trip. The company, founded in 1949, has more than 160,000 square feet of combined manufacturing and warehouse space in Minnesota. You can find its gear in a long list of outdoor stores.
Wanderlust : a restaurant or activity from our Top Ecosystems list
If you’re Visiting Tampa, one of our 20 great places to start a business after the pandemic, don’t miss Florida’s oldest restaurant, Columbia, a fifth-generation family business, where you can dine on Gazpacho Andalucia, Cuban sandwiches and Columbia’s original “1905” salad, first introduced the year the eatery was founded.
This story and others on Times of E are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.