What is one of the most significant obstacles discouraging aspiring entrepreneurs from pursing their dream? Insecurity? Lack of capital?
How about health insurance?
I don't have statistics to back up this claim, but I do have experience. This idea was recently reinforced after corresponding with a good friend who had just started a new job. Her new position provides her and her family with, among other benefits, health insurance.
Her husband may be even more excited about her new job than she is. He's an aspiring entrepreneur who has continued to work in the corporate world because his job covered the extensive costs of their family's healthcare.
She went on to explain that her husband had always wanted to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams, but "he was really never in a position to think outside the proverbial box until now, due the exorbitant cost of healthcare."
I can completely relate.
For much of my corporate career prior to co-founding Wild Creations, finding a job that provided healthcare was a priority for me. When we started Wild Creations, I thought finding healthcare would be easy. I was young(er) and healthy, but it turned out that the costs were far greater than I had expected, or could afford, in our startup. I went the first few years without any coverage and the looming fear that if I were hurt, it might ultimately bankrupt me.
Needless to say, I changed many of my active lifestyle habits back then.
I now have a wife and family, and while we have healthcare, it is not cheap. It is, in fact, nowhere near "affordable." We make do, however, and because we have pre-existing conditions (we had kids), we didn't dare drop our healthcare for fear of not qualifying for new coverage. I certainly am not alone in this regard, and if other aspiring entrepreneurs share my plight, the prospect of starting a company is probably buried under a similar heap of uncertainty.
Enter the Affordable Care Act (ACA). All the problems and critiques aside, could the ACA ultimately spur entrepreneurship by reducing the anxiety of giving up or living without health insurance? I believe it can.
Many people who aspire to be entrepreneurs are often stuck in so-called job lock. They're bound to a particular job for the simple reason that their company provides benefits, such as health insurance that would otherwise be unaffordable.
The ACA has many merits and many faults, as does any large, hunkering piece of legislation. I'm not here to debate it from either side. I can say, however, that I am rooting for it to succeed, because if the ACA can succeed in lowering healthcare costs and providing coverage for millions of individuals who would otherwise lose insurance if they quit their jobs, it could ultimately encourage an unprecedented level of business growth and innovation.
My friend's husband certainly has a new lease on life and will be pursuing his entrepreneurial dream soon. He is taking a detour, however, as she explains, "He's currently taking a song-writing class, and his new country song could have potential."
If affordable healthcare can encourage a future country music legend to chase his dreams, that's all the proof I need.
What is your take on the impact of the ACA on entrepreneurship? Please share your thoughts below.