OPINION

Government Regulation Is Killing the Entrepreneurial Spirit

I recently heard a couple of very interesting interviews on the radio — both with Bernie Marcus, one of the original founders of The Home Depot. They turned out to be two of the most interesting and important interviews I have heard.

Marcus said that government regulation has grown so out of control that it would make starting and succeeding with The Home Depot impossible today. What?

For my Pick of the Week, I want to tell you about Google Health and the future of the segment.

Shooting Down Success

Marcus was a guest on both the Dennis Prager and the Michael Medved radio shows. We see great success stories like The Home Depot and want to jump into the entrepreneurial world of opportunity and get started, he told the hosts. That’s the good part.

However, he also said that if he were going to start The Home Depot today, he couldn’t succeed because of government regulation. That stunned me. Is that true?

I don’t think most people realize what has happened to our world over the last couple decades. How it has changed. Too much government regulation has become a roadblock, according to Marcus. If that is true, then it means it’s impossible for countless entrepreneurial companies to succeed today.

That means others will not have the opportunities these companies create — like workers and suppliers and advertising agencies and newspaper ad departments and so on.

Over the years, one by one, we hear of all these new regulations, and we feel the government is looking out for us. However, we lose sight of the damage that regulation is doing until people like Marcus shake up our thinking.

I guess this is an example of the difference between feeling and thinking. The truth is there are two sides of the coin. While regulation helps us on one side, it hurts us on the other.

It cuts out the opportunity for us to succeed and to grow as entrepreneurs. We need entrepreneurs. They break the rules. They find the new opportunities. They create new markets. They create the next wave we all ride.

However, we have been building the walls higher and making it harder for new companies to start and succeed.

How do we start a fire without the spark of entrepreneurship? Do we really want to cut out the opportunities that made America great?

Better Days

Bernie Marcus talks about a new group he is part of — the Job Creators Alliance. This is a new organization that is full of leaders like himself who are trying to educate the marketplace and turn back the clock to the successful times we enjoyed just a few short years ago… before its too late.

The group has a growing list of leaders including Brad Anderson, CEO of Best Buy, John Mackey of Whole Foods and many more.

Bernie Marcus and I both live in Atlanta, and I remember the early days when he and Arthur Blank started The Home Depot. They were young and broke, and at first, most of the boxes lining their store’s shelves were empty. They were there to make The Home Depot look bigger than it really was. It worked. They started with one store, then added another and another.

The Home Depot became an incredible success story. There are many other similar stories. Consider Apple, Google, Facebook, and so on. Are other incredible success stories doomed if we keep heading in the same direction? Yes, according to Marcus.

That is something we need to think about and correct immediately before we lose our entrpreneurial spirit.

These radio interviews were great, but they are just the beginning. This is an important message. Bernie, you have to tell the world. Give more interviews and speeches. Write articles. Write a book.

This is such an important message that everyone needs to hear it before it’s too late. When I heard it from Bernie Marcus, it shocked me like a slap in the face. Now it’s my turn to slap you in the face.

Just think about this important message and if you agree, act.Jeff Kagan's Pick of the Week

My Pick of the Week is Google Health. The idea is fantastic. Among other things, it lets users store and manage health records in one central place, and they can share them with family, friends or doctors.

The only problem is Google Health is closing. Yes it is. Bye-bye. How can that be? It’s only been around for a few years. Will the promise of eHealth and mHealth ever come to pass? The answer is yes, but it will take a little longer.

Google was a great company to join in the effort. The only problem is it has grown and matured and changed quite a bit over the last few years since it went public.

It is no longer that young, entrepreneurial company willing to spend years developing an opportunity if it can’t be profitable from the start.

Remember the good ole days when the world used Google to search, but it never made a dime? Then it went public, and everything changed.

Will Google Health ever come back? Yes, I think it will — perhaps a few years from now under a different name. This is the direction of the industry and the opportunity. Google Health will come back when the marketplace is mature enough to make it profitable.

That’s too bad. It’s a real blow to this new segment of the industry, and we will simply have to deal with it as it continues to grow and become relevant and profitable over the next several years.

Many other important companies that are also in this young space will have to work harder. They will have to jump in and take up the slack — companies like Qualcomm and groups like the Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance.

Google may be bowing out, but there is still Microsoft HealthVault, as well as a handful of other health information storage services.

So don’t worry — even without Google Health, the future still looks as bright as ever, but the path may sometimes be rough as opportunities come and go.

Jeff Kagan

Jeff Kagan is an E-Commerce Times columnist and tech analyst following wireless, telecom, healthcare and technology. He is also an author, speaker and consultant. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com. Read the first chapters of his new bookLife After Stroke, now available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

1 Comment

  • . . . Home Depot’s US website is crap and the Canadian version billion fold better. I accidentally discovered the Canadian site when searching for lumber pricing that was not to be had here on the US site. They had more products, better and more information, departments and pricing. AND here they are grabbing on to cheap and limited product lines. I have had to take back so many things that I have gotten at HD that I am now leaning towards only going to Lowes. The lesser of two evils. Or is it an excuse not to step up and business is being taken "offshore"?

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