Strange as it might seem to readers of Inc.com columns, the United States is far from a hotbed of entrepreneurism. Quite the contrary. Startups in the U.S. recently neared a 40-year low and the U.S. ranks as mediocre, at best, in terms of entrepreneurial spirit.
According to experts from the Kauffman Foundation and Moody's and quoted in CNN Money, the shortfall in startups is because 1) large corporations like WalMart are eating all the opportunities, 2) government regulation is strangling innovation, and 3) big companies are "getting more entrepreneurial."
Umm.... I don't think so.
Big companies have always protected their turf and government regulation in the U.S. today is far less onerous than in many countries where small businesses sprout like mushrooms. As for big companies suddenly "getting more entrepreneurial"...as Yoda might say: "To me a break please give."
Why, then, is American become less entrepreneurial than other countries? I think it's because Americans are becoming a bunch of complainers and couch-potatoes.
Let's start with the complaining. In business as elsewhere in life, there are two types of people: problem-solvers and complainers. Problem-solvers start businesses; complainers don't.
And unfortunately, the United States is chockablock with complainers. According to a recent study quoted in The Atlantic, a higher percentage people in the United States than in any other country complain that they experience physical pain "often" or "very often."
Mind you, the study in question wasn't measuring physical pain itself, which is more or less the same for everybody regardless of the country in which they live. The study was measuring how much people complain about pain.
And Americans carp and moan about pain more than anybody else.
Take the Philippines, for instance. Even though it's a poor country with many hardships and ample poverty, only about 1 out of 10 Filipinos complain that they experience pain. The comparable figure for the United States is 1 out of 3.
The opioid crisis is another sign that America is getting wimpier. Most opioid addictions start when a patient complains about physical pain. Presumably because they know their customers, doctors in the U.S. are quick to prescribe pain medication. The result is a sharp rise in death by overdose.
How does this affect entrepreneurism? Well, according to a recent report issued by the Global Entrepreneur Monitor (GEM), the Philippines ranks #10 worldwide in entrepreneurism.
The United States? We're #41.
So, Americans aren't losing their entrepreneurial edge because of monopolies, government regulation, or (snarf!) big-company innovation. America lags because--not to put too fine a point on it--we've let ourselves become a culture of drug-addled complainers rather than go-for-it problem-solvers.
Present company excluded, of course.