A three part series: Reading the tea leaves, accepting the inevitable and bringing focus to the most promising sector of our economy.
Part One discussed how we got to where we are. Part Two focused on Trends and Facts helping support the shift to a small business-focused economy, Part Three now pulls it all together and discusses concrete solutions for moving forward into the new Access Economy.
All too often we are just looking at the issues in silos and not seeing the opportunity for truly shifting our economy, society and our species’ detrimental and growing impact on the earth’s biosphere. Taking a page from the wisdom of E.O. Wilson, his book, Conscilience, touches brilliantly on a new approach - managing strategy and policy across multiple silos of specialty at the same time.
As both large companies and governments are shrinking their employee rolls, it seems as though the facts and trends we discussed in the second part of this series, combined with a huge focus on strengthening, teaching and supporting smaller, independent, innovative businesses, will reap the greatest payoff (in cost-benefit terms) and a national economic discussion well overdue for consideration.
So what can we do, right now to support this shift? Here are some ideas:
New Capital and Formation Options for Small/Startup Businesses
On April 5, 2012, President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act into law. This bipartisan legislation fulfills the President’s call from last fall to reduce regulatory burdens that prevent many small and young businesses from raising capital – specifically by allowing crowdfunding, expanding mini-public offerings, and creating an “IPO On-Ramp” consistent with important investor protections.
Interestingly, I have read a number of articles pushing fear around this and other proposed instruments making their way through Congress and the SEC as being risky. If I want to invest in my neighbor’s business via one of these new or expanded mechanisms, is that more “risky” than investing in the stock market, which is run now run largely by automated hedge fund algorithms? Michael Shuman, co-founder of Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) and Post Carbon Institute fellow says the critics have it "180 degrees backward." Shuman acknowledges that the bill is imperfect, but says:
"Jim Hightower says this bill is about 'deregulating Wall Street.' In fact, the bill spells the end of Wall Street as we know it. It allows the 99 percent of us who are not wealthy ('unaccredited investors') to put our money in the local businesses we love, by removing what were once impossibly difficult and expensive legal barriers. Those barriers had been so high, so misconstructed, so poorly targeted against small business and small investors, that they resulted in almost none of our long-term savings - now totalling $30 trillion - going into the local half of our economy. The JOBS Act ends this monopoly for good."