Can We Prevent a Permanent Underclass?

Unfortunately, today we have obsessed over entrepreneurship by focusing all of our attention at the top. The amount of advice, support, and encouragement we give to people doing ordinary small businesses — the kind that built America — is negligible. But we celebrate shows like "Shark Tank" and donate to new cutting-edge products on Kickstarter, making celebrities out of the 1 percent who have the experience and support to come up with those ideas. But what if you want to start a gardening business in your small town? You're on your own.

This has to stop. One of the benefits of the brave new world that we are entering is that it will also create free time, increase mobility, and allow people to create and envision in ways they never could before. But people will only do that if they are empowered to do so. We need to celebrate entrepreneurs in all their forms, and not look down on enterprises that don't have fancy business plans, websites, or Twitter handles. We need to cultivate an atmosphere of cooperative entrepreneurship, like the barn-raising days of old. We need to encourage people to lean on each other for the confidence they need to create their own economic future.

We all can do something to make this happen. For my part, I'm building a platform through my startup LaunchPosse that allows ordinary people to create business ideas — including part-time home-based businesses, brick-and-mortar stores, and online shops — by leveraging their social network communities for ideas, motivation, and startup funding.

It aims to create supportive communities that share resources, collaborate, and inspire each other on the journey to self-employment. And by making entrepreneurship as fun as games like Monopoly, we're hoping to tap into a reservoir of creative energy that we believe everyone has.

If we don't collectively respond to this challenge — through our governments, our local communities, and our social networks — we will be setting in stone a permanent underclass that our children will come to condemn us for.

11/18/2015 5:00:00 AM