BLOG STARTUPS, VENTURE AND THE TECH BUSINESS

October 30 2013
by Todd Hixon

An Entrepreneur’s Prayer For Better Government

My wife’s grandma used to say “the gods are bowling” when thunder and lightning filled the sky. For the last few weeks it seems that the gods have been playing chicken in the family minivan, with all of us aboard. Our politicians remind me of the gods of Greek mythology: quarrelling, narcissistic, irresponsible, and prone to instigate the odd war. Hubris and nemesis abound: e.g., House of Cardsbut catharsis is lacking. How might an entrepreneur appeal to them, and try to make them understand what he needs? I don’t advocate human sacrifice [there’s enough senseless killing already]. Perhaps prayer will help. Here it goes.

Zeus with a laurel crown. Gold stater from Lam...
Zeus, king of the Greek gods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Dear all-knowing and almighty gods, please hear the plea of a humble entrepreneur. We are a hard-working, thrifty, and independent lot: we don’t expect much of government. But we can’t survive unless government does its work, and sometimes we even need a bit of help.

Please rule in a way that promotes healthy and stable markets. We’re not asking for another bubble, in fact, we’d prefer to avoid one. We just need a chance to build our businesses without risk of customer retrenchments and lock-downs. The debt default was a near catastrophe. Please, gods, don’t do that again.

And, gods, let your countenance shine on investors who put their hard-won gold into risky, long-term investments to support entrepreneurs. Such investors are always too few, and far fewer still after the financial crises of recent years. Instructing your tax collectors to show them favor with lower rates for their gains is surely a blessing for all.

Please don’t make too many rules and regulations, and please don’t change the rules often, either. We entrepreneurs lack money to hire staff to study the rules and fill out the forms. We have to do that ourselves, and it keeps us from building products and finding customers. Rules grow like barnacles on a ship: they’re easy to pick up and hard to remove, and they really slow us down. The writ of Sarbanes and Oxley wounded the entrepreneurs in ways that only decades can heal. Consider abolishing some rules every now and then, as a sign of your love for your people.

Mighty gods, there is one place where we need you to grant us Olympian favor. We beseech you to keep Hephaestus busy in his volcano workshop (maintain investment in basic research), forging new technologies that we can turn into products and markets. His work is so deep in the fire of science (so speculative and far from specific market applications) that we mortals, let alone the cowardly venture capital money lenders, cannot pay for it. Yet, over the years, Hephaestus has wrought powerful magic, even spinning a web that covers the world. In this matter the help of the gods is sorely needed.

Just one more thing: please help your humble entrepreneurs create jobs. We are told that in the salons of Olympus you speak of creating jobs in manufactories with wages like those of chariot-workers. Alas, we entrepreneurs build companies. Companies are started by but a few very talented and motivated people: the smartest we can find. We will hire even Turks if they have the skills we need. When companies grow and prosper, they hire many people, and those people with their wages and the entrepreneurs with their shares buy products and services that create work for many others. Successful entrepreneurs often make investments with young entrepreneurs continue this cycle of virtue: it is said that they can become angels while they still walk the earth. In this way was the valley of silicon in the far west of the world built. The talented few are the key to success: help us bring them from wherever they are, even across the seas, and heap them with wealth and honors when they succeed.

Thank you, great gods. We hope that you will hear, understand, and favor us with your grace.

[This post first appeared at blogs.forbes.com/toddhixon on October 23, 2013.]

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