Most founders likely celebrate National Entrepreneurs' Day--first proclaimed in 2010 by President Obama--by working on their companies. After all, when you're putting in 18-hour days, raising a glass to yourself feels a little frivolous. But for those who love and support the entrepreneurs in their own lives, or who simply appreciate those men and women who risked it all to make the world a better, livelier place, here are some ways to pay tribute.
1. Patronize Kickstarter.
The platform has successfully funded more than 150,000 projects, representing early money and demand for numerous startups. Crowdfunding is arguably the easiest way to support someone else's creative vision. And pledging $33 toward a deck of tarot cards reimagined for the zeitgeist may help assuage your guilt for not giving your brother-in-law the $50,000 he wants to buy a parking garage.
2. Write a letter.
Urge your local congress members to introduce or support legislation helpful to entrepreneurs. For example, you could try to persuade them to let founders defer tax liability during the first few years of business, increase government funding of R&D, or create an entrepreneur visa. Or you could demand the passage of H. Res 511, which would recognize National Entrepreneurs' Day as an official holiday, rather than merely a presidential proclamation. But if you're only going to write one letter, that visa thing is probably more urgent.
3. Hold a party.
Know what you don't get when you work alone in a basement, back bedroom, or garage? An office holiday party! Make your favorite entrepreneur feel less alone (and offer a preview of scaled-up days to come) by throwing her a National Entrepreneurs' Day bash. Invite any friends and family who have invested, the local storeowners who agreed to audition her product on their shelves, her regular UPS delivery person, and the college kid who manages her social media. Position it as a photo op and maybe the mayor or head of the local chamber of commerce will drop by and make a speech.
4. Host a pop-up.
If you own your own company, have sway with the managers of your office building, or can get access to some other public space, bring in a few local startups to sell their wares. All they'll need, probably, are a few tables and Square. Advertise the event as you would a farmer's market or crafts fair to generate additional foot traffic.
5. Make an introduction.
Startups need office space. And marketing. And materials. And advice. And workers. And beta testers. Most of all, they need customers. If you know an entrepreneur and someone who potentially can help him in any way, be generous with your network. Bring them together. There might be a win-win waiting to happen.
6. Join (or start) an angel network.
While venture capital hogs the limelight, angel money backs far more startups--roughly 64,000 each year, according to the Angel Capital Association. And while angel investments are much smaller than VC, the companies receiving them are typically much younger, meaning your money could make the difference between start and stop. Roughly 9 million American households meet accredited investor criteria, according to the SEC. If just a fraction became angels, it would double the amount of available funds. Angel investing isn't for everyone, and is better done in groups. But if you've got the funds and the risk profile, then it's worth investigating.
7. Survive a day without entrepreneurship.
This one won't help founders. But it will remind you of how much entrepreneurs affect almost everything we do. For one day, forgo using any product or service created by entrepreneurs in the last 20 years and three months. (That tacked-on three months puts Google out of reach.) So: no social media. No Uber or Lyft. No Spotify or Netflix. No Slack or Dropbox. No Airbnb. No Shake Shack or Sweetgreen or MOD Pizza.
On second thought, why celebrate a day that honors vision with deprivation? So flip that. Today only use products and services created by entrepreneurs. See you at Shake Shack.