Originally published here.
Business owners will do anything to make sure their businesses are successful.
A strong feeling of apathy, sometimes, is the natural consequence of having experienced too many obstacles in the process of getting your idea off the ground. Every now and then, would-be entrepreneurs become frustrated and walk away. Others end up looking for diverse, creative ways of getting around what they deem too complicated.
What all business owners have in common is the urge to make things happen: a kind of acute dedication harbored only by people fired up by a strong sense of purpose. They are everywhere, from your favorite food truck’s owner to Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk. They will go to great lengths to get things done.
While on my trip to Detroit for a series of panels and interviews facilitated by the Virginia-based Franklin Center, I had the opportunity to talk to the owner of a small tavern in the downtown area known as Greektown.
The Firebird Tavern, Tony Piraino said, had gone under a series of small changes to its structure to please the ever-changing city health codes. Every now and then, the city’s health inspector appears to come up with a new thing the owner must do to make sure the place is up to date with the local regulations if he wants to continue to operate legally.
The latest changes, however, cost Mr. Piranio a couple of thousands of dollars. A quantity of cash not all small business owners have at their disposal with ease. And what was so pressing that needed such an urgent change? The doors inside of the tavern, which is housed by a Victorian style building with creaky wooden floor and charming, thick, exposed brick walls, needed panic bars. Were the doors not opening and closing before that just with a slight push?
Yes, they were opening and closing just fine.
When asked what his biggest burden was, aside from the burden that some of these regulations may cause, Tony Piraino claimed the beginning of a business could be the toughest, most frustrating period for a business owner. Bureaucracy has the power of making people give up on their dreams, but the solution to that, Mr. Piraino said, at least in his case, was to learn just whom to skip and whom to talk to whenever he had to deal with city officials.
His extensive experience dealing with bureaucrats allowed him to learn just whom he had to go to whenever he needed something done. With time, he had identified the names to ignore, and what processes to skip whenever he needed something from city officials. Others who, never had to go through the same, didn’t get the chance to learn just what to do and how to do it to avoid dealing with city officials that wouldn’t, in the end, be helpful.
What happened to Mr. Piraino is also what happens to big business.
Big corporation executives understand this process. Bureaucracy to them can be just as excruciating. In the process of learning just what they have to do to keep their major businesses from collapsing, some of them learn what parts of the system they ought to ignore. They often hire professionals with all the contacts in the right places and use the system to foster privilege through legislation.
Taxes are a big part of the problem.
When some of the big companies simply find it too burdensome to even continue trying to get things done in the U.S., they literally pick up and leave to another country where corporate taxes are not as unendurable, causing local job loss.
Government, too frequently, hinders the progress of common people like you and me. The complexity of our tax code, and the difficulty many of us encounter when attempting to get anything done with the help of government combined make the task of creating jobs and helping the economy flourish a game of chess.
And as you know, chess is not for everyone.
What we see constantly, whether we talk to small or big business owners, is how often they have to look for a solution around the conventional ways just to get their businesses kick started. We have cultivated a system that promotes only those with a special dosage of dedication and some disregard for the rules, leaving several others outside, wanting for what could have happened if the system had been their friend.
Isn’t it time for this to change?