Rebuilding Better: Activating the Start Us Up Coalition in Response to COVID-19

Summary of Study

Bottom Line: The coronavirus crisis provides the Start Us Up coalition with an opportunity not only to advocate for entrepreneurs to get a seat at the crisis talks table but also to provide policymakers with a roadmap to rebuilding the economy to serve all entrepreneurs -- especially those who are female, minority, immigrant, and in rural areas. These entrepreneurs have historically been marginalized by investors and lenders, preventing them from turning their ideas into businesses.

In response to this crisis, the Start Us Up coalition is focusing on the elements of its broader policy framework, called America’s New Business Plan, to make it responsive to what new and small business owners urgently need today to keep their doors open. America’s entrepreneurs are at the frontlines in the battle to preserve and restore our economy.

The Start Us Up coalition is working to ensure that these entrepreneurial voices are heard by policymakers. Entrepreneurs will play a key role in rescuing the economy. Too often, however, policymakers offer bureaucratic solutions that only benefit big business and leave behind entrepreneurs. When entrepreneurs don’t have a prominent seat at the table, the country gets bureaucratic solutions that privilege big businesses and policies that continue to leave behind the women, minorities, and rural residents who most need the support. Startups and small businesses form the heart of every community, yet nearly half don’t have the financial reserves to last more than a few weeks, and more than a quarter are unprofitable.

The Start Us Up coalition has offered an entrepreneurial roadmap -- policy solutions for every level of government that highlight the short-term and long-term needs of all entrepreneurs during and coming out of this crisis. These solutions must be part of any response to this pandemic. 

  • FUNDING: At least 83% of entrepreneurs do not have access to bank loans or venture capital when launching a business, tilting the scales in favor of those who have the wealth to create new businesses. Those disparities are even more significant now as the majority of business owners lack the financial resources needed to weather the current crisis. Policymakers must act to create equal access to the right kind of capital, especially for female, minority, immigrant, and rural entrepreneurs.

  • OPPORTUNITY: In normal times, burdensome red tape makes it expensive and difficult to start and run a business. Now, red tape threatens to put out of business millions of entrepreneurs who can’t navigate the complexities of government assistance programs. As states and municipalities develop localized recovery plans, cutting red tape must be a priority.

  • KNOWLEDGE: Underserved entrepreneurs have fewer connections to relevant resources than existing business owners do. One of the biggest advantages for a connected entrepreneur is getting support from skilled professionals, such as through strong networks, cooperative platforms, co-working hubs, and high-quality incubators and accelerators. The country must open that access up to more new businesses in a way that is culturally specific.

  • SUPPORT: The lack of a safety net has become apparent across all of society, but it has always been there for new businesses. Assuming the full risk of failure, they are responsible for health care, retirement savings, and other the necessities that they, their families, and their employees depend on. This crisis highlights the need for a comprehensive safety net that supports entrepreneurial risk-taking. 

Read the full study HERE