Updated: Feb 14
How do we choose opportunity over affordability, access over inequality, innovation over the status quo? These are issues I think about every day. While we're waiting for structural inequalities to disappear, the cost of living keeps rising. In the San Francisco metro area, a family of four bringing in under $129,150 is now considered low income, up from $117,400 in 2018 and $105,300 in 2017.
The markets will correct themselves eventually, but I can't imagine the majority of small businesses, communities of color, or working Americans chasing the American Dream benefit from letting the markets solve for this inequity. If we really want to safeguard the American Dream, we need to think big and work collectively to make it happen.
There's a great deal of discontent with the American Dream these days. The economy is booming for certain people but the broad prosperity we experienced in post-war America just isn’t ringing true for most. One very important canary in the coal mine is our entrepreneurial spirit, and the job creation that comes with it.
Two recent articles I’ve read highlight this plight: John Chambers, former CEO of Cisco who grew the company from 400 employees to 75,000 laments the decline of entrepreneurialism. In his article "Let's disrupt the American Dream-to save it", Chambers cites three key tenets of a healthy innovation economy:
1. The job creation driving the innovation economy is led by small businesses and startups.
2. The diversity of founders (racial, gender, and geographic), is essential to a healthy innovation economy.
3. To spur growth and investment, regulation for start-ups and small businesses needs to be cut.
Monica Grover, a small business owner in Washington, D.C., shares her own firsthand experience in the piece "I Fell for America's White Lie, Entrepreneurship," which describes her struggle to sustain a small business in today's aggregate economy. Grover reinforces Chambers' rallying call for capital, and adds her own take from the trenches: diverse communities need strong business support networks.