Participation in the US labor force is at an all-time low, consumption of taxpayer funded welfare services is at an all-time high, and the greatest level of "job creation" is in the part-time category.
So what, naturally, would city, county and state lawmakers pursue in response to a new, entreprenuerial small business startup movement? More taxes, regulations, restrictions and prohibitions, as a matter of course. In the era of Barack Obama such policies are "the American way."
It has to do with what is often referred-to as "the sharing economy." Despite the socialistic sounding name, the essence of "the sharing economy" is actually very positive. The term is used to describe individuals and organizations providing, on a very basic and freelance basis, products and services to people who want to pay for them, and the seller and buyer are usually brought together through a website or online community. Such service providers are, indeed, small business owners, even if they don't have a storefront or office or their own dedicated website.
Take for example Uber.Com, a San Francisco-based venture that matches people who need a ride from one end of a city to another with people who have cars and are willing to travel. Visit the company's website, download the app, and search for people who are ready right now to shuttle you about. If you want to be a provider, Uber.Com has a screening process whereby you can register to deliver transportation services.
This very basic " seller-hooks-up-with-buyer" type of transaction is happening at an increasing rate in cities all across the country, all on a freelance non-professional basis and mostly all via online connections. Need someone in your area to run errands or perform household chores? TaskRabbit.Com might help you find a provider who's ready right now. Got an extra room to rent for people visiting your town? AirBnB.Com connects travelers with in-home accomodations.
One might think that Americans getting off their backsides and working, even if only on a freelance basis, would be a good thing. Yet city governments in Dallas, Seattle, Tampa, New York, Portland and Oklahoma City have all sought to impose strict regulations and, in some cases, prohibit these types of freelance services businesses, largely because the freelancers are not taxed and regulated like established handyman, hotel and taxicab companies. At the state level, Arizona, North Carolina and Virginia have all sought similar regulations and restrictions.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.