Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Entrepreneurship: a quest for glory? In a post for Project Syndicate, Silicon Valley investor Esther Dyson proposes the controversial idea that the U.S. may have too many start-ups (via TechCrunch). It's not that start-ups, themselves, are the problem, Dyson writes. It's that "people who would make perfectly good project supervisors or salespeople establish their own companies, starving the ecosystem of middle managers...Many make the wrong career choices in search of glory." On the other hand, Dyson recognizes that in countries where entrepreneurs aren't glorified, there's still a lack of qualified talent to fill the "non-starring roles," because, Dyson writes, "Most people would rather work for an established company, or for the government." So, what is the overarching solution? Education. "Countries that want to be successful overall, rather than merely to play host to a couple of billionaire entrepreneurs who eventually will decamp to a tax haven, must focus on building a strong educational system for all their citizens."
A product of reality TV. Most entrepreneurs sell a service or a product to customers. Bethenny Frankel is not like most entrepreneurs. As a reality TV star, she's sold herself to the camera, and business is booming. An article in The Wall Street Journal profiles the Housewives star who's found commercial success by granting access to production crews to nearly every aspect of her life, including the birth of her daughter. According to Frankel, who has a book, a margarita company, endorsements, a lingerie deal, and a skin-care line in the near future, motherhood has been "good for business."
All in the family. Entrepreneurs looking for start-up funding from friends and family may have a tough time doing it these days, according to a new study out of Pepperdine University. According to The Wall Street Journal, just 35 percent of entrepreneurs polled said they had "informal investors" funding their businesses, down from 56 percent last spring. The most glaring reason for the drop in family funding is that the recession has made it more difficult for entrepreneurs to pay those loans back, and entrepreneurs are, therefore, less likely to ask just anyone for the money. One Brooklyn-based entrepreneur discussed taking a $5,000 loan from his father with the Journal. He said, "I feel like I've dipped into his rainy day fund...If he were to have trouble with his car or the roof of his house, this is the money he'd put toward that." For more on family funding, check out this Balancing Acts column by Meg Hirshberg.
The entrepreneurial revolution. Looking for a feel-good spin on the times we live in during this holiday season? Long-time entrepreneur and start-up theorist Steve Blank provides it today. "The pundits say the American dream is dead and this next decade will see the further decline and fall of the West and in particular of the United States," Blank writes. "But I don't think so." Blank goes on to cite the major innovations of the last 60 years and the barriers that kept them few and far between. But recent advances in technology, Blank explains, have helped to push entrepreneurship toward the mainstream. "What's happening is that all the things that have been limits to start-ups and innovation are being removed," Blank writes. "[S]tartups now have tools that speed up the search for customers, reduce time to market and slash the cost of development," he continues. "It may be the dawn of a new era for a new American economy built on entrepreneurship and innovation." Here's hoping he's right.
So you think you can cook? And you dream of starting your own food business? Well, it's not as easy as you think, the LA Times reminds us. For starters, you'll most likely need to rent a commercial kitchen space to meet orders, the costs of which can add up fast. You also need product liability insurance, a business license, and a safety certification in food handling. All that work can get tiring, not to mention the added pressure of whipping up a unique food product worthy of bringing to market.
Wondering where to start your business? Consider the eight cities profiled by CNNMoney, which offer some pretty sweet perks to entrepreneurs. Among the incentives: Pittsburgh's AlphaLab, which offers free office space, mentoring and $25,000 in funding; Menlo Park, California's Foundry, which guides startups through the seed stage to an IPO; and Littleton, Colorado's "economic farming" program, which provides market research, competitor intelligence and strategic planning services to fast-growing companies.
Have a happy holiday! We sure will be. Check back in Monday for all the updates from the Thanksgiving weekend.