Is The American Dream Still Alive for Small Business Owners?
I’m watching my mailbox for a new book — Saving the American Dream, by Open Solutions CEO Louis Hernandez, Jr. The book explores how government policies allegedly threatened “the most crucial pillars of the American Dream — our small businesses, and the community banks and credit unions that support them.” Open Solutions Executive VP Santo Cannone, also a ConnectWise veteran, mentioned the book to me and caught my attention.
Personally, I believe the American Dream is alive — but badly damaged by flawed government policies and our society’s quest for instant gratification rather than long-term perseverance.
In an April 5 announcement about the book, Hernandez wrote:
“American policies have made it more challenging than ever to start and run a small business, while toughened lending standards and capital constraints make it hard for community-based financial institutions to give small businesses the credit they need to grow and hire employees. I wrote this book to challenge and inspire readers to take up the cause of rebuilding the economy, by reconnecting to the fundamental principles of the American Dream.”
As the co-founder of a small business that ultimately got acquired, I’ve witnessed some of the American Dream challenges first-hand and second-hand. Crazy regulations forced me to pay commuter taxes — in spite of the fact that I worked from home. Endless phone calls from the State of Massachusetts (where we incorporated) and the State of New York (where I live) were a time drain on my business partner, Nine Lives President Amy Katz.
While we didn’t require any small business loans, we played it extremely safe with our finances during the 2008 credit crunch. Neither Amy nor I took a salary during the first five months of business and we regularly reviewed best-case and worst-case scenarios for the company.
What Is The American Dream?
From the moment I entered the workforce in 1992, I have always believed in the American dream, which essentially says that we all have the opportunity for prosperity, success, and upward social mobility through hard work (as WikiPedia puts it).
My dad pursued the American Dream starting around age 18 back in 1953, around the age his own father died. My dad put himself through college, supported his mother for many years, got married, raised four kids, built a real estate business and continues to chug along here on Long Island.
But how many of today’s 18-year-old kids could navigate similar challenges in pursuit of The American Dream?
Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200
Hernandez, no doubt, can clearly articulate how U.S. financial policymakers have threatened the American Dream, raising new hurdles for small business owners like my dad.
Still, I think there’s enough blame to go around for everyone. Many of us are guilty of living far beyond our means and running up bad debt. Someday, those bills come due.
So how can we get back on track … and restore the American Dream for those who have lost hope in recent years? I look forward to reading Hernandez’s views in “Saving the American Dream.”
It ain’t dead. We’re a resilient country filled with smart entrepreneurs. But we’ve done quite a lot to damage The American Dream in recent years.