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Monday, September 24, 2012

Candidates: What’s Your Plan to Save the Company Called America?

A question for President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and everyone else running for office this year: How are you going to jump-start sales of the company called America?

We hear everyone talking about cutting spending and raising taxes. That’s fine and necessary, but how are you going to ignite the almighty GDP? If you don’t, America will go broke during your generation of leadership, regardless of how you manage the federal budget. There will be no money for spending programs and no wealth to be taxed. The entire country will soon look like Stockton, California.

Think of America as one huge company that contains 6 million small businesses, about 100,000 mid-sized businesses, and only 1,000 big enterprises. All of its assets combined generate about 100 million real full-time jobs and just over $15 trillion in sales and production. The problem is that the growth of America the company is stalled.

We’re just not hearing enough from candidates about what they’re going to do to get this major enterprise surging again. Well, here are things that the candidates should address:

  • Business leaders of all shapes and sizes aren’t in a “growth” state of mind. They’ve lost their will to “dream it, build it," as the great ad man Roy Spence put it. Leaders must make it the top priority to foster an environment that instills confidence in businesspeople; that encourages them to prosper, succeed, and gain new customers. Jobs follow customers, and if businesspeople are in a growth state of mind, there’s no end to the number of customers they’ll create. Just look at Apple -- up the street from my apartment here in Georgetown last week, you couldn’t see the end of the line gathered at the Apple store at 6:30 a.m. to buy the latest iPhone.
  • America the company is seriously short on startups. In my estimate, the country needs a minimum of 2 million startups per year to keep its economy and jobs pumping -- and it’s now running at a measly 400,000 startups annually. If this pace keeps up, it’s game over. Leaders must aim all of their policies, strategies, regulations, etc., at promoting and fostering an explosion of small business.
  • Leaders -- especially those in Washington -- must realize that the solutions to America the company’s stalled growth won’t come from national government, but at the local level. Economic booms originate in the souls of individuals and great cities. Strong leadership teams already exist within many cities, in governments, and among local business and philanthropists. Just about every city has leaders working on numerous business-building initiatives. The feat is to get all of these local forces to pull in the same direction, toward a city’s economic growth. Sales in America will only be revived one city at a time.
  • Create the future generations of entrepreneurs for America the company. There are 50 million kids in K-12 in the U.S., with nearly 30 million in grades 5 through 12. When Gallup and Operation Hope researchers asked kids in middle and high school if they wanted to start their own business, a whopping 45% said yes. When the same group was asked if they believed they would “invent something that changes the world,” an astounding 42% said yes. Gallup and Operation Hope found huge amounts of economic startup energy in our kids -- enough, in my view, for America to re-win the world’s markets. But the country is blowing it, because only 5% of the kids surveyed said they were interning with a local business or being mentored. Imagine if that number jumped to 25%. These kids would get the guidance, encouragement, and motivation to ignite entrepreneurial energy for decades to come.
America the company won’t be revived simply by cutting spending and raising taxes. Leaders need a plan for fostering long-term confidence and growth -- city-by-city, business-by-business, and kid-by-kid. In fact, it would be great if, in the remaining weeks between now and November, we heard less sniping and budgetary accounting, and more about how leaders plan to help the company called America to “dream it, build it.”

Read more about Jim Clifton’s strategies for jump-starting America’s growth in his book, The Coming Jobs War.


Servant said...
October 5, 2012 at 1:04 PM  

If you ever going to examine America as a company, you have to look at some of the unique aspects of America that differs it from normal for-profits such as:

(1) it is a non-profit worker co-op and because of its voting structure, it provides lot of services for free (such as "national defense" and social welfare programs) that does not make much sense in terms of actual profits.

(2) the United States pays everyone living there in 'company scrip' (USD), which it can devalue at a moment's notice [thereby reducing its debt obligations]

(3) the United States has a monopoly of force within the territory that it controls, and it can use that monopoly of force in a variety of different ways to get what they want (instead of relying on voluntary persuasion in the marketplace).

It's probably not a very good idea to rely on examining the USA as a company, but it could highlight the possibility that the USA could increase revenues in ways other than through increased taxation/lowered spending. Maybe it could, for instance, devalue its company scrip.

Nicholas Head said...
October 12, 2012 at 3:53 PM  

I really dislike using the metaphor of America as a business, because America is so much more. Business and companies are poor arbiters of culture, reducing everything to the bottom line, often in a self-righteous fashion. This entrepreneur says enough already.

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