In a week when the social media, radio and television are full of well wishes and remembrances of what made America great, we are prone to discuss the brilliance of our founders and the bravery of the armed forces. I certainly agree that these are important, but I also believe that it’s important to remember the brave entrepreneurs who fuel our economy and create jobs for millions. Risk takers all, these individuals put their reputations and often meager life savings on the line to prove the potential of an idea.
Sometimes entrepreneurs have well written business plans while most bravely fly by the proverbial seat of their pants. Some have visions of wealth and fame while others simply work to create a living for their families. No matter their motivation, America’s business visionaries have fueled what is the greatest economic model the world has ever known.
In the early 1900’s, Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company and father of the modern assembly line, revolutionized the fledgling auto industry by mass producing vehicles, making them affordable to the average person. Through hard work, smart thinking and above-average pay for his workers, Ford made his Model T and his company an instant hit. Today, the company operates under the guidance of William Ford, Jr., great grandson of the founder. It employs over 87,000 workers and has sales of over $118 billion. Faced with a struggling global economy, the company refused assistance from the federal government, contributing to its positive image and a dramatic spike in market share.
At the age of 18, Bruton Smith began promoting stock car racing in Midland, North Carolina. With very shaky financing and a troubled relationship with contractors, he built the Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1959. Today, Speedway Motorsports owns multiple race tracks around the country, resulting in countless jobs and many communities. His activities and bold risk taking have established Charlotte as the defacto home of NASCAR.
In California, Meg Whitman grew eBay from a modest 30 employee online auction company to a global institution with 15,000 employees and $8 billion in annual revenue. Now a candidate for Governor of California, she is running on a platform of fiscal restraint and job creation.
Texas native Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, wrote the company’s business plan while on a road trip from New York to Seattle where he launched the company in his garage in 1994. Started as an online book seller, the company now sells everything from software and video games, gaming hardware, and even gaming websites that offer a boosting guide for CSGO, to also home improvement items and car engines. It enjoys revenues of over $25 billion and employs over 24,000 workers.
As a child, Tony Hulman was destined to take over the family baking soda business in Terre Haute, Indiana. His goal was to make Clabber Girl a household name in kitchens across America. After reaching this goal, he turned bought the dilapidated Indianapolis Motor Speedway from World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker. Rickenbacker, famous for his many quotes, once said, “The four cornerstones of character on which the structure of this nation was built are: Initiative, Imagination, Individuality and Independence.” Hulman epitomized these characteristics. One hundred years later, the legendary track is known worldwide as the home of the Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard 400 and the Red Bull Indianapolis GP motorcycle race.
At a time when the economy is struggling to restart and approval ratings for politicians are at an all time low, the American business person is saying, “Enough already! Get out of our way and we’ll get this thing going. We always have and we’ll do it again!” In the 1920’s, after a war and a very difficult economic period, the federal government finally woke up and cut federal spending and taxes, resulting in what was to be known as “the roaring twenties,” one of our nation’s most prosperous economic booms. Unemployment dropped to one of the lowest levels in history and new businesses were started at an astonishing pace. But a few politicians couldn’t stand the success and raised taxes and government spending, resulting in a financial collapse that was “The Great Depression.”
Time after time, history has shown that if left alone, American businesses will lead the way out of economic turmoil and create prosperity and jobs in abundance. I believe that the same thing could (will) happen this time. I regularly speak to business owners and not one has ever said to me that the answer to our economic problems is more government spending and regulation. Why are businesses not hiring? My business friends tell me they’re not going to do a thing until they figure out what the federal government is going to do next. There’s a pent up demand that is not going to emerge until politicians get out of the way and let businesses do what they do best – build things and create jobs.
Two reasons why Brand Acceleration works in the economic development and construction industries are because of our passion for creating jobs and building business. Our clients are cities, counties, regional groups and entrepreneurs who are ready, right now, to get started.