New Presidential Administration: What Entrepreneurs want

With some uncertainties of what a Donald Trump administration means for small businesses, the article describes some interactions that entrepreneurs have with regulations. The general theme seems to highlight the fact that re-regulation, much like the Mayer-Schönberger piece makes clear, would solve many of the animosity between entrepreneurs and the law. Entrepreneurs across different industries expressed the need for regulations to be simpler, streamlined, and provide better communication from the government to small businesses when changes occur.  It will be interesting to follow whether Donald Trump’s experience in business will make him sympathetic to the concerns of entrepreneurs and adjust his regulatory policy to appease this constituency. 


De-Regulation v. Re-Regulation

I found Mayer-Schonberger’s point about de-regulation versus re-regulation to be quite interesting. See Mayer-Schonberger, at 7–8. He asserts that although many may assume that “once burdensome regulations that fostered and facilitated non-competitive market conditions were abolished,” the resultant “deregulation” would “liberat[e]” the market from “stifling regulatory measures,” thus opening the door for innovation and entrepreneurship. Id. at 7. However, notes Mayer-Schonberger, the reality is that some markets “tend to favor first movers, large players and incumbents,” making entrepreneurship difficult, if not impossible, without appropriate and well-crafted regulation as a “leveler.” See id. at 6–7. This “reregulation” “offers new entrants a chance to enter and stay competitive.” Id. at 7.

An example that immediately came to mind is utility poles. Without regulation, the companies owning these poles would likely be tempted to charge exorbitant rates for third party attachment to the poles, in order to stifle competition with those companies’ services. Facing the prohibitively expensive prospect of having to either pay these rates or to permit and erect an entirely new series of poles, new entrants would likely direct their attention to competing in the space of a different good or service. Cf., e.g., id. at 7–8. Additionally, the existing telecom companies could essentially prohibit the entrant from connecting to its network, further disincentivizing innovation.

Instead of this scenario, we have a broad regulatory scheme that attempts to enable innovation in the space. See generally Daniel F. Spulber & Christopher S. Yoo, Access to Networks: Economic and Constitutional Connections, 88 Cornell L. Rev. 885 (2003). For example, the Pole Attachments Act of 1978 “gave the FCC the power to regulate the rates that utilities could charge cable television systems for pole attachments,” and “required that the rates, terms, and conditions” for such to be “just and reasonable.” Id. at 988. Additionally, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which “was designed to introduce competition into local telephone service,” required “every incumbent local telephone company to interconnect with its competitors reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms.” Id. at 889. Through such Acts, our regulatory scheme (re-regulation) makes it possible for an entrant to attempt to compete with a telecom company, which would most likely be impossible without such a scheme (de-regulation). This comports with Mayer-Schonberger’s theory: sometimes entrepreneurs need re-regulation, not de-regulation, in order to be competitive . See Mayer-Schonberger, at 7–8.

The Malleability of “Entrepreneurship”


The image of the struggling entrepreneur with much to lose has seemingly dissipated in modern culture—although this is far from reality. Today, entrepreneurs can take advantage of social media to frame their companies as they want others to see it. With the ability to showcase one’s own company—instead of having to rely on impressing journalists or buyers—it is easier to portray it as thriving, energized, and constantly progressing. Indeed, entrepreneurs utilizing social media sites such as Twitter or Instagram can purchase followers, giving the appearance that they are popular and thriving, even if they are still unknown and struggling.

Today’s entrepreneurship, then, can be deceiving. Instagram feeds do not reveal the time, effort, and funding constantly being poured into the company. Moreover, today’s perceptions of entrepreneurship seems to equate already having money with the ability to succeed as an entrepreneur.

Although Jean-Baptiste Say’s portrayal “of the entrepreneur as a rare, exceptionally talented and motivated individual” “continues to frame much of the academic and popular discussion on the subject [of entrepreneurship],” this perception has arguably diminished. (David E. Pozen, We Are All Entrepreneurs Now, Wake Forest Law Review, 283, 288 (2008). Instead, the celebrity influx into entrepreneurship has somewhat chipped away at the idea of the entrepreneur as a “rare” figure.

For example, a blog post entitled “10 Celebrity Entrepreneurs Who Are Changing the Game” states: “Let’s face it: An A-List star [] will have a much easier time launching a startup compared with the average Joe. But there are plenty of celebrities-turned-entrepreneurs who have done more than simply tack their names onto an existing company.” See Zoe Henry, 10 Celebrity Entrepreneurs Who Are Changing the Game, Inc.,

With money, then, one can seemingly “tack on” to another’s bright idea, and profit. Perhaps, as well, they are better suited to assemble a team of colleagues who can help navigate the (perceived) complexities of the law and labor regulation. See Victor Mayer-Schönberger, Entrepreneurial Law, Harvard University, 2–5.

Yet, entrepreneurs are still subject to criticism—even those with the big bucks and famous names. Comparing Blake Lively’s website, Preserve, to Gwyneth Paltrow’s, GOOP, the blog states: “Unlike [Paltrow’s site], Preserve’s ‘social good’ efforts are more concrete; Lively partnered with Covenant House, for instance, donating 5 percent of sale to help provide homeless children with food, clothing, and shelter.” See Henry. (Notably, as well, Blake is portrayed as a more legitimate social entrepreneur.).

This recent development, the “celebritization” of entrepreneurship, continues to expand the image of the “entrepreneur” (despite probably only accounting for a small percentage of entrepreneurs).

Pozen writes: “Theories of entrepreneurship abound, but we have no completely satisfying synthetic account of the practice, and we probably never will.” See Pozen at 285. This sentiment carries with it an exciting, hopeful connotation. It is part of the beauty of entrepreneurship that it is always evolving; as entrepreneurs continue to experiment and innovate, theories of entrepreneurship itself expand (and, in doing so, act as a “bridge” between disciplines, see Pozen at 318).

Indeed, in my opinion, the malleability of entrepreneurship is a reflection of successful entrepreneurs themselves: flexible, adaptable, and never fully finished.