Ever since President Barack Obama gave his infamous “If you have a business, you didn’t build that” speech, entrepreneurs have been divvying up on both sides of the fence to denounce or praise his remark. Overwhelmingly, though, entrepreneurs are disgusted with the President’s insinuation that business owners aren’t responsible for their business’s success.
“I completely disagree someone has built my business for me. I’ve put in the personal sacrifice, hard work, personal risk, the innovative ideas and personally have created jobs for others. I’m appalled to think our President feels someone else did this for me,” said Jennifer Vickery of National Strategies Public Relations. “I built my business despite the economic decline [and] despite being taxed as a small business owner in a way which is almost unaffordable.”
Mr. Obama, I built my business
Other entrepreneurs and small business owners echoed Vickery’s statement. “I didn’t see any piece of government sitting at my kitchen table helping me pack seeds when I started my business in 2009,” said Michael Podlensy, Owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC.
“Certainly mentors can be commended for helping guide a business, but mentors don’t put in 70+hours a week, or sacrifice paychecks for someone else’s business,” said Kristine Tanzillo, President, Dux Public Relations, which she owns with her husband. “My parents taught me and my siblings that success comes from within through hard work and dedication, not through handouts and the government.”
“I risked everything to start my company,” said Jeremy Shepherd, Founder and CEO, PearlParadise.com, Inc. “It isn’t about being smart… it is about risking everything you have and working harder than anyone else you know in order to make your dream a reality. I feel that we could use the same logic for his presidency. He isn’t the reason he became president. His mom and dad are. They gave birth to him. Or wait, it was because of the Big Bang.”
The government isn’t responsible for my success
Some were disturbed that the President implied that businesses couldn’t be built without the help of the government. “It is insulting when President Obama declares that entrepreneurs and small business owners didn’t get to where we are without the help of government. Already, I am faced with unemployment taxes that have quadrupled over the past several years, coupled now with a mandatory tax if not providing and paying for 1000 health insurance policies for my employees,” said Layton Roberts, President and CEO of Employment Innovations, Inc. “If anyone should be praised, it is the hard-working women and men who have labored to make our business a success.”
“If public infrastructure is available to anyone, I do not uniquely advantage myself with that infrastructure, but I am not any smarter or harder-working than anyone else, why then should I be expected to feel guilty about my success and owe more?” asked Paul Heagen, Founder and President, Defining Moments Consulting. “If you apply his logic, it means less successful people (smart, hard-working other otherwise) who tend to be much higher consumers of public infrastructure and resources ought to be giving back more.”
My opinion has definitely changed
In the aftermath of the President’s remark, entrepreneurs are singing a new song about Obama.
“I used to be middle of the road,not always agreeing with his views but understanding them,” said Denise Stern, Owner of Let Mommy Sleep. “Now I feel that I just can’t support a politician who continually reinforces the notion that I am not accountable for my own success and that capitalism is in any way wrong.”
Some are even more cynical about the President. “I have never seen eye-to-eye with President Obama, but this further demonstrates why I fear that the age of American ingenuity is rapidly disappearing,” said Mike Ragsdale, Owner of 30A.
Perhaps Leanne Hoagland-Smith sums it up best: “I built my business through 60-100 hour work weeks, paying for my own ongoing professional development in excess of $50,000, calling on potential customers, etc. No one helped me in the ways the President suggested. His statement revealed to me his ongoing desire to change the American Narrative as Condoleezza Rice spoke of recently. Here are her words:
It is a narrative that is being pushed by our current president, that ‘I’m doing poorly because you’re doing well.’ That has never been the American narrative. Ours has never been a narrative of aggrievement, and ours has never been a narrative of entitlement.