Americans love a good competition—look no further than your local sports bar on NFL Sunday. Fans are deeply invested in the relatively meaningless success or failure of the team that they cheer for. Fair-weather fans everywhere get excited and boast of their team’s triumph. They spend massive amounts of money on tickets and licensed team apparel.
What if we got just as excited about a start-up that helps connect donors with people in need, and also ensures that their money is spent well? Or were interested in incentivizing young educators to come up with ways to use technology to diversify and expand education? Or supported another idea that may be better than all these, but lacks the connections and funding to get off the ground?
[pq]Since the recession, more companies exit the economy than enter each year in the U.S.[/pq]
Numerous reports have surfaced on how America is losing its innovative spirit. Entrepreneurship is on the decline. More businesses fail than are started each year. The net loss of small businesses is a serious drag on the economy. Contrary to what Hillary Clinton once claimed, businesses are the biggest creators of jobs.
A May 2014 report from the Brookings Institute by Ian Hathaway and Robert E. Litan brought some alarming facts to light. Since the recession, more companies exit the economy than enter each year in the U.S. The number of new businesses has been steadily declining over the last three decades. Nor is this restricted to a few depressed regions—this is a nationwide trend.
Enter something like 1776. The name “1776” pays homage to the American Revolution, as this group supports a new kind of revolutionary. Innovators and entrepreneurs threaten status quos and wreak creative destruction in the name of progress. 1776 is a start-up itself, founded in 2013, and aims to support other start-up companies. They offer office space, advice, connections, and occasionally funding to innovators, including hosting a “Challenge Cup” to highlight top ideas and award start-up capital to a chosen few.
Encouraging innovation doesn’t have to mean creating an incubator for start-ups. It can be encouraging a young entrepreneur, supporting a local business, being a patron of a lemonade stand, or finally starting that Etsy account. It could be something as simple as a comfy coffee shop in an under-caffeinated neighborhood that could employ local teens, facilitate community, and create value.
Invention and entrepreneurship can be more of a struggle than a 60 minute football game, or seven game baseball series. Logistic and legal roadblocks exist at every turn. So, let’s cheer for the mom running her own business, for the high school student with a bright idea, and the college student who wants practical experience to go with that business degree.