The Role of Law
Elgar Law and Entrepreneurship series
Edited by Megan M. Carpenter
Chapter 3: Of Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs: Toward a Public Policy that Supports New Venture Formation
Eric J. Gouvin* INTRODUCTION The United States likes to think of itself as a nation of entrepreneurs. We idolize people whose rags-to-riches life stories seem to track the storyline of the fictional hero Horatio Alger.1 Our popular culture tends to mythologize the entrepreneurial experience. In the popular mind, entrepreneurs get to be their own boss, set their own hours, follow their passion, and, of course, make a lot of money. The romantic notion of entrepreneurship is so attractive the idea of the “entrepreneur” has mutated from being a way to refer to someone who identifies and exploits an economic prospect to being someone who develops any kind of idea or opportunity.2 Indeed, we are so fond of entrepreneurship that a recent survey found a majority of Americans have either started a business or thought about starting one.3 Of course, thinking about starting a business is a lot easier * ©2011 The author thanks the participants at the Evolving Economies Conference at Texas Wesleyan Law School and his research assistant, Michael Stein. 1 Bernard Sarachek, American Entrepreneurs and the Horatio Alger Myth, 38 J. Econ. Hist., issue 2, 439–56 (1978) (analyzing the actual life experiences of 20th century entrepreneurs and finding that although many successful entrepreneurs were drawn from the elite classes and were not true “rags to riches” stories, they did often overcome some kind of adversity on their way to the top). 2 See, David E. Pozen, We Are All Entrepreneurs Now, 43 Wake Forest L. Rev. 283 (2008)...
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