Excerpts from the Self-Made Myth (continued)

Excerpts from the Profilees 

Jerry Fiddler: Public Support for Education
Helped Get Me Where I Am

Jerry Fiddler was co-founder, CEO, and chairman of Wind River Systems in Alameda, California. Now a mentor, an investor, and a professor of entrepreneurship, he helps entrepreneurs start new businesses.

“One of the things people don’t talk about is how much we really rely on government institutions to maintain a fair playing field. Entrepreneurship is an equalizer, a way that people who aren’t wealthy can become more wealthy, can become more independent, and in the process can provide a huge amount of benefit to society as a whole. But we live in a society right now that is going in exactly the opposite direction. The disparity in wealth between the bottom and the top is growing dramatically, and the middle class is being squeezed out.

All of us, but especially entrepreneurs, rely on the government’s role of creating a level playing field, and people like the SEC and the FTC [Federal Trade Commission] and other regulating agencies are critical to entrepreneurship. Large business interests obviously put huge effort into lobbying, much of it into reducing regulation, but for small businesses, for startups, that regulation is important. The only way that you can have a healthy startup economy is if you have a level playing field that allows those companies to come into being and to compete, and that has to come back to some level of regulation; the government has to be regulating.

And then there’s the rest of the infrastructure that we need—the roads and the railroads, transportation and information infra- structure that makes wealth creation possible in this country.

To take it up to a higher level, as a country we are absolutely the envy of the world in terms of the intellectual horsepower we put together—the creativity, the technology, the leadership. Why is that here? To me much of it is a product of the entrepreneurial system and of the immigrants who prized education, learning, and initiative. But most of all, it’s a product of the public education system.”

Thelma Kidd: Taxes Are Just the Price of Doing Business
Thelma Kidd is the co-founder of Davis-Kidd Booksellers, which grew to four stores across Tennessee, employing more than 200 people before being sold to another independent bookseller in 1997.

“Women have started, owned and inherited businesses in the United States since the founding of the country, yet official recognition and support for women’s enterprise development has been in existence only for the past 25 years . . .

The first federal government program to assist women’s business enterprises came as the direct result of lobbying from women business owners. Due to their efforts not only in lobbying the federal government but in urging the appointment of women in key agency positions, an interagency government task force was created, and a research study was conducted to review the status of women-owned firms in the US. The resulting report, “The Bottom Line: Unequal Enterprise in America,” documented some of the barriers that women faced in starting and growing their businesses. In response to the report, President Jimmy Carter issued an executive order in 1979 establishing an Office of Women’s Business Ownership within the US Small Business Administration.

Shortly thereafter, a pilot loan program was established, the office began working with federal procurement officials to get more women-owned businesses involved in selling goods and services to the government, and began reaching out to the women’s business community through speeches, conferences, and news releases.”

Glynn Lloyd: Transportation and Food Safety Regulations Help My Business
Glynn Lloyd is the founder of City Fresh Foods, a Boston- based food service and delivery company.

“Well, let’s talk about transportation. We’re a delivery company. We’re going 60 to 70 miles north, east, and south. So without roads, we have no business. We’re using back roads, side roads, and highways. Interesting enough, this was a tough year for us because we do a lot of the schools. Due to the heavy snow, we lost five days of school this year in terms of business, which is unheard of in the past few years. But there would have been a lot more if we didn’t have the infrastructure to clean the streets [and] put the salt down, which I know is very expensive, actually.

Water . . . clean water. We had the issue this year where there was a little concern around water contamination, and they shut it down. We had to pull our water from a different reservoir. And we had to literally boil all of our water here, and it took us back in time. I mean, you talk about taking for granted. I was saying, “What happens if you didn’t have water?” Well, we experienced it this past year. So, those are the basics. We treat it like the air that we breathe, but the reality is, without it, you’re out of business.”

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