By Russ Campbell
“If I had my life to live over, I would go into business. Trade is a noble thing.”
— Albert Einstein
In producing five large-scale business development books in Colorado and California, we have been privileged to meet privately with dozens of business entrepreneurs and leaders — sometimes company founders, sometimes CEOs, but always those who propel enterprises that today enjoy success and solid earnings.
But it wasn’t always that way. In the quiet inner offices, when asked how the company actually started, the typical founder or executive recounts the arduous journey from business embryo to corporate maturity.
Usually the start-up years were immensely painful, but to the risk-takers and visionaries, those who bet the farm every day, whose backs were against the wall nightly, sheer survival and a will to prevail called into play higher and higher levels of mental and spiritual resolve.
The struggle, personal sacrifice and the roller-coaster of despair, daily converted into hang-on hope, are the unseen sides of enterprise, known only to a few. Only one in a thousand, at best, can relate to the trialsby hell of the budding businessman or -woman.
Meanwhile, generations of employees and their families go on to reap full livelihood from the genius and sacrifice of the entrepreneur, rarely knowing and appreciating the underlying wellspring of their security.
The failure to appreciate the catalytic role of private enterprise is a national myopia that continues to threaten America.
In the past decades, the American public has split into two camps — the “private sector” and the so-called “public sector,” many of whom argue that the “public sector” is as legitimate and productive as private business.
Yet the hard truth, ill-taught even in business schools and horribly misconstrued by portions of the public, is that business — the “private” sector — is the mainspring of personal and national wealth. The public sector is really a mythical establishment, in spite of its good works, utterly dependent on private-sector profitability.
The logic is deadly straightforward but painful for some to grasp.
It is the entrepreneur — the seed of the future harvest — who creates and builds the company and struggles to turn a profit. That company hires the employees who pay the taxes that underwrite government, the “public sector,” and sustains America’s gargantuan “nonprofit” network
Brute common sense and sheer self-interest would require that society honor and urge on the entrepreneurs and risk-takers to produce even greater profits and tax revenues. Instead, in parts of America, especially in our high schools and universities, a near-rabid rage abounds against “capitalism,” with absolutely no understanding of its dynamic power, and no personal history in the enormous risk of business-building.
Serious increases in productivity and business profitability are indispensable ingredients for America’s continuing global leadership. Ideally, our nation should devise every support system and incentive for the inception and flourishing of entrepreneurship.
Forbes’ George Gilder writes that “enterprise always consists of action in uncertainty. The entrepreneur prevails not by understanding an existing situation in all its complex particulars, but by creating a new situation which others must try to comprehend. Bull-headed, defiant, tenacious, creative, entrepreneurs continue to solve the problems of the world even faster than the world could create them.”
Having created a land of democracy and liberty and promulgated those virtues throughout the world, demolished tyrannies from every quarter of the globe, and ushered in the revolution of information technology, the United States now needs to nurture and celebrate, more than ever, one of its most precious assets — the entrepreneur.
In 1990, Evergreen resident Russ Campbell launched a marketing and advertising firm, after previous positions as Aspen city manager and American foreign service diplomat in Brazil and Venezuela.