A note from our editor, Elizabeth MacBride:
Here are two stark statistics from the world of banking that help explain why entrepreneurship in the United States is in a state of profound decline.
- In 1994, there were 14,400 commercial banks in the United States. Today, there are fewer than 5,000. Most of that consolidation has been among community banks, which were best positioned to recognize the power and promise of local entrepreneurs.
- Regulatory changes that began in the mid-1990s pushed consolidation in the banking sector. Then, the Dodd-Frank legislation helped particularly large banks become too big to fail. The four largest banks now control 80% of all deposits and are actively discouraged from taking the kinds of risks that lending to small businesses requires.
Connect the dots. Today, more of the people who want to be entrepreneurs are women and people of color, who have less family wealth to tap into. Now, they also have less access to outside capital.
If the U.S. Congress wanted to kill entrepreneurship, it couldn’t have done a better job.
These stats come from The New Builders, which is unexpectedly now an Amazon bestseller. In a world consumed by size, books about small business rarely break into the national consciousness, but The New Builders is gaining momentum. For a short time, we even topped Elon Musk’s new book, despite the fact that we are not handing out Dogecoin cupcakes.
I wouldn’t be above that to get the message out. We have a rare window of opportunity after the pandemic to re-embrace the power of small businesses to create jobs, innovate and restore a badly needed sense of community.
Yesterday, Sen. John Hickenlooper, Democrat of Colorado, acknowledged that the harm done by Dodd-Frank legislation after the Great Recession far outweighs the protections for consumers. The legislation added so many regulatory requirements to banks that only the large ones survived.
Seth Levine and I tell the stories of today’s entrepreneurs in The New Builders, and offer some solutions, steps that people in the private sector can take to re-embrace small businesses and entrepreneurs of all kinds.
Some of the solutions will need to come from Washington, D.C, where Congress needs to reverse the policies that have helped turn banking into a utility and made small business loans unprofitable.
NOTE: We’re working on our next list of the most influential people in global entrepreneurship. Do you know someone who has encouraged entrepreneurs, set an example, offered thought leadership or been an ecosystem angel? If you have an idea, please let me know by responding to this email — I read all of my mail and try to respond to everything.
Times of Entrepreneurship Stories of the Week
A New Auto Insurance Company Aims At The Underserved LatinX Market
When Nestor Solari noticed his aunt, an immigrant from Uruguay, had trouble buying affordable car insurance, he saw an opportunity to make it more accessible to immigrants and Latinx Americans.
The HUB: Founder Institute Embraces Social Entrepreneurship, And A Former Google Exec Heads To Portland
Lars Perkins sold his startup Picasa, a digital photograph software developer, to Google in 2004. Now he’s heading the Roux Institute Techstars Accelerator in Portland, Me. Meanwhile, Ashley Connell at the Austin-based Prowess Project is connecting women who are re-entering the workforce by connecting them to project manager positions. And Kroger has launched a program to help American growers get their projects onto its grocery store shelves.
The Surprising Advantages of New Builders
In this excerpt from The New Builders by Seth Levine and Elizabeth MacBride, Danaris Mazara found herself with $37 in food stamps, wondering how she was going to feed her family.
You may have missed: A Young Tech Millionaire Moved To Boise. Now, He’s Humbler. And More Connected.
The dawning realization: “There are a lot of business opportunities here. And a lot of really interesting people.”
Read it here.
Best practices: Tired of replaying podcasts to find that one line you wanted to remember? Spotify just introduced beta version of an auto-transcription feature to certain shows, with plans for a larger rollout, according to The Verge.
Buzzworthy: In Tyranny of Big Tech, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, the state’s former attorney general, takes on the giant companies that have gathered unprecedented troves of data on average Americans, with few checks to their power.
Made in the USA: Ditch workout boredom and mix up your routine with one of Brute Force’s sandbag kits. The Denver-based company’s gear can be used for “unstable load training,” where you build neuromuscular coordination by lifting oddly-shaped objects.