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66. John Tamny On America’s Uniquely Productive Entrepreneurial Flywheel

The flywheel is a robust and powerful mechanism so long as restrictive regulation by government and failures of imagination by capitalists do not slow it down.

John Tamny speaks articulately with Hunter Hastings about the uniquely American entrepreneurial flywheel in Economics For Entrepreneurs podcast #66.

Key Takeaways and Actionable Insights

A growth business is what John Rossman, in episode #50, termed a flywheel. Using amazon.com as an example, he gave us this simple image.

Flywheel Economy Diagram

The flywheel looks simple, but in reality it’s quite nuanced. Lower prices and a great customer experience will bring customers in, Bezos reasoned. High traffic will lead to higher sales numbers, which will draw in more third-party, commission-paying sellers. Each additional seller will allow Amazon to get more out of fixed costs like fulfillment centers and the servers needed to run the website. This greater efficiency will then enable it to lower prices further. More sellers will also lead to better selection. All of these effects will come full circle back to a better customer experience.

John Tamny sees the American entrepreneurial economy as a beautiful and productive flywheel.

Why are Americans so entrepreneurially focused? We descend from “the crazies” – the other thinkers who came from around the world, dissatisfied with their lives, and willing to cross oceans and borders to get to a place that offers no security but offers freedom. They took the ultimate entrepreneurial leap. We got the nut cases. Steve Jobs, for example, was of Syrian descent. Could he have started Apple in Syria? No.

John Tamny's Entrepreneurial Flywheel

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Entrepreneurs lead us to a better place.

John’s definition of an entrepreneur is someone who has a vision that everyone else thinks is ridiculous, yet they follow it anyway. They have no time for the way things are done today. They want something different. And to win consumer acceptance, what’s different must also be better. So they quite literally lead us to a better place. Horse-drawn carriages weren’t enough, so Henry Ford gave people something different. Everyone wanted Blackberry phones when Steve Jobs brought out the iPhone, and he quickly demonstrated its superiority. Every entrepreneurial act is speculation – there is never certainty that people are going to want the new product. That’s what is so important about entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs need to attract intrepid finance and intrepid financiers.

Silicon Valley is littered with VC’s who turned down Facebook, and turned down Amazon. Founding entrepreneurs think differently and have a vision that is far out of the norm, and they need to be matched with financiers who can be strong supporters and collaborators on the path to a better place. Irrespective of whether it is from Wall Street or Sand Hill Road, or from visionary friends and family, it’s critically important that we figure out a way to get financing to brilliant people. Government restrictions on entrepreneurial activity are certainly barriers to growth, but so is failure of imagination on the part of capitalists.

Intrepid lending takes place far away from banks. Unspent wealth is the source, and the more unspent wealth one person has, the more risks they can take.

We tend to complain about the antiquated and sclerotic banking system, but it has nothing to do with entrepreneurs and innovation. Banks make loans to entities they know will pay them back. Entrepreneurs fail 90% of the time. Banks want nothing to do with innovation.

Those with unspent wealth are the most crucial people in the economy when they match their unspent wealth with entrepreneurial talent and vision. The more unspent wealth they have – and the less the government takes away from them in taxes – the more intrepid they can be in investing it. When we tax away the wealth if the richest, we tax away the most important wealth of all. – that which has the highest odds of being directed towards new ideas that, while they look promising, have high odds of failure.

More and more of us have the opportunity to become entrepreneurs, if we harness the flywheel of original ideas that attract intrepid capital.

One of John’s many books, The End Of Work, describes how we are all now so enabled with interconnectivity to resources that we have the chance to make money by doing what we love. Our passion can become our job. If we are able to imagine a future place that is better – that improves the lives of individuals – we can create a growing business. The more of us who can do this, the more we grow the whole economy – which, after all, is made up of individuals. If we can also attract that intrepid capital that John refers to, growth becomes faster and higher.

Besides The End Of Work: Why Your Passion Can Become Your Job, John’s books include Popular Economics: What The Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey and LeBron James Can Teach You About Economics, and Who Needs The Fed: What Taylor Swift, Uber, and Robots Tell Us About Money, Credit, and Why We Should Abolish America’s Central Bank.

Free Downloads & Extras

“John Tamny’s Entrepreneurial Flywheel”: Our Free E4E Knowledge Graphic
Understanding The Mind of The Customer: Our Free E-Book

Start Your Own Entrepreneurial Journey

Ready to put Austrian Economics knowledge from the podcast to work for your business? Start your own entrepreneurial journey.

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63. Dusty Wunderlich on FinTech Financing: Entrepreneurs Helping Entrepreneurs

Key Takeaways and Actionable Insights

FinTech sounds like the latest over-hyped tech bubble. But it has a much more fundamental importance in entrepreneurial economics. It brings entrepreneurs the best-priced capital in the marketplace. Dusty Wunderlich explains on the Economics For Entrepreneurs podcast #63.

Consider these findings from a 2017 report from the G20 Global Partnership For Financial Inclusion, titled Alternative Data: Transforming SME Finance.

Access to financing remains one of the most significant constraints for the survival, growth, and productivity of micro, small and medium enterprises (SME’s).

Digital SME finance, using alternative data, offers an extraordinary opportunity for addressing…this problem.

The world’s stock of digital data will double every two years through 2020. Every time SME’s and their customers use cloud-based services, conduct banking transactions, make or accept digital payments, browse the internet, use their mobile phones, engage in social media, buy or sell electronically, ship packages, or manage their receivables, payables and record-keeping online, they create digital footprints. This real-time and verified data can be mined to determine both capacity and willingness to pay loans.

A rapidly growing crop of technology-focused SME lenders are putting the use of SME digital data, customer needs and advanced analytics at the center of their business models, setting forth new blueprints for disrupting the SME lending status quo.

The report refers to 800+ innovative digital SME lenders. Colloquially, we can refer to them as FinTech.

Dusty Wunderlich, a subject matter expert and seasoned investor in the FinTech field, discusses this lending landscape.

FinTech Ecosystem Map

Entrepreneurs need capital in the present to deliver goods and services to consumers and customers in the future.

Entrepreneurs take scarce resources and apply them to what they believe the consumer will want at a future date. In order to do that entrepreneurs need capital in the present so they can deliver on those goods and services to the consumer in the future in the hope that their forecasting is correct.

That’s why entrepreneurs need to understand capital financing and modern day capital markets.

Access to capital has historically been difficult and expensive. Today, it’s becoming easier and less expensive, aided by the digital data revolution referred to in the report quoted above. It’s important for entrepreneurs to be familiar with the new field of FinTech and how to navigate it.

Dusty Wunderlich suggests that entrepreneurs map out the financing alternatives on the axes of their own business stage versus the cost of capital.

Cost of capital refers not just to interest rates and fees, but to the requirements that lenders can impose on entrepreneurial borrowers. At the very earliest stages, “friends and family” lenders, angel investors and seed stage venture funds will all require equity stakes, and ratchet up those stakes via deferred interest and debt-to-equity conversion requirements. These early investors perceive themselves as taking a high amount of risk, and the start-up entrepreneur typically has little or no collateral or leverage in negotiation. The best negotiation stance is to generate competition among investors with the quality of the customer value proposition and the business plan and revenue model.

Fintech financing is now available at the earliest of entrepreneurial growth stages.

Today, from the very outset of the business journey, start-ups and small businesses can access a range of financing types – debt, convertible notes, equity and SAFE’s (Simple Agreement For Future Equity) – via crowdfunding platforms like nextseed and others like it. Marketing your business to investors on platforms like these taps into your existing skills in marketing and social media, and doesn’t require you develop capabilities in pitching your business that you might not have mastered.

As you advance along the growth curve, FinTech options expand and may offer you the best-priced capital on the market.

As a result of the expansion of FinTech based on alternative digital data sources, the potential for connecting your particular business to a well-matched and well-priced source of capital is greater and more precise than ever. Dusty cited a couple of examples like Kabbage (where, incidentally, entrepreneurs can currently get help with PPP loans). There are several more. Because of the competition in the FinTech market and the quality of the information they utilize, capital from these lenders is well-priced – probably approaching Mises’ originary rate of interest, Dusty observes, in a testimony to Austrian free market principles.

It is when your business represents the least risk to lenders that big banks offer their high-requirements business loans.

At a later stage of your business journey, banks will lend money against collateral and will impose additional onerous requirements and loan covenants. The entrepreneurial embrace of uncertainty is not for them! Bank financing is at the top when it comes to cost of capital and is to be approached cautiously. It is with bank financing that entrepreneurs become entangled with the negative effects of Federal Reserve repression of interest rates, that can mislead them into making incorrect investment decisions.

The cost of bank financing for mature companies revolves more around terms and covenants than interest rate percentage points. Banks are transactional, whereas entrepreneurs are operationally minded. This can cause a lot of friction if covenants, terms and triggers are not properly set. Entrepreneurs must pay attention to every detail in the loan contract. Great businesses can be ruined because of draconian covenants and triggers banks put into their loan contracts.

Indicated action: Entrepreneurs will be well-rewarded for fully investigating and understanding the emerging world of FinTech and digital SME finance. Be sure to calculate the full cost of capital – not just interest rates – and weigh all options.

Free Downloads & Extras

“Financial Capital Options for Businesses At All Stages”: Our Free E4E Knowledge Graphic
Understanding The Mind of The Customer: Our Free E-Book

Start Your Own Entrepreneurial Journey

Ready to put Austrian Economics knowledge from the podcast to work for your business? Start your own entrepreneurial journey.

Enjoying The Podcast? Review, Subscribe & Listen On Your Favorite Platform:

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48. Chris Casey’s Journey To A Distinctively Austrian Financial Services Business

Learn how directly Austrian Economics can be applied in entrepreneurial business design. A creative founder of a financial services firm demonstrates to customers how an understanding of business cycle theory and monetary theory can be applied to investment portfolio design.

Key Takeaways & Actionable Insights

Chris Casey's Entrepreneurial Journey

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Innovation often emerges from the combination of existing components in new ways. 

In Chris’s case, the new combination was his knowledge of Austrian Economics – specifically Business Cycle Theory and Monetary Theory – and of Finance. He invested a great deal of time and effort in mastering both parts of this knowledge combination.

Chris Identified An Unmet Customer Need, A Dearth Of Available Solutions, And A Potential for Market Growth. 

There were a few – probably a very few – customers for a financial services offering designed with recognition of the relevant principles of Austrian economics in mind. But the fact that there was at least some customer need provided evidence of potential. Then external stimuli such as the 2008 financial crisis and the Ron Paul Presidential Campaigns caused a growth in demand.

A value proposition naturally emerged. 

For a narrow but highly receptive target audience, the value proposition that “Austrian Economics is vitally important to designing investment portfolios” proved to be very effective in generating a value anticipation.

Communication skill is a critical element. 

A value proposition doesn’t sell itself. Chris utilized – and continuously polished – his communications skills to help customers fully appreciate the direct link to their desired value: a feeling of improved financial security because the uncertainties identified by Austrian Economics are accounted for in portfolio design.

Chris’s implementation was consistent with the value proposition, and capable of delivering. 

In portfolio design, the product of Chris’s service firm, the inputs from business cycle theory and monetary theory are top-down elements. Chris added the bottom-up element of personalization of the design process to the individual customer. This is classical Austrian entrepreneurship: understand the customer’s needs, empathize with them, and customize the service so they feel individual satisfaction of idiosyncratic needs. In subjective value analysis, portfolio performance is not the sole criterion for the value experience. Customer feelings are far more significant.

Chris keeps an eye on the competitive frame of reference to maintain the uniqueness of his offering. 

Chris’s competition is not other investment advisors. It’s the general demeanor of Wall Street sales-focused firms. “Stay fully invested” and “Don’t try to time the market” are typical sales communications of these firms that don’t truly have customers’ best interests in mind. He can always utilize this contrast as a value frame of reference.

Chris’s success exemplifies the clarity that results from candid entrepreneurial self-assessment and the embrace of the entrepreneurial process. 

Self-assessment = In what field am I best resourced to enter and do business?

Entrepreneurial process = Identify opportunity by identifying customer dissatisfactions in that field.

Visit WindRock Wealth Management at https://windrockwealth.com

Free Downloads & Extras

Chris Casey’s Entrepreneurial Journey: Our Free E4E Knowledge Graphic
Understanding The Mind of The Customer: Our Free E-Book

Start Your Own Entrepreneurial Journey

Ready to put Austrian Economics knowledge from the podcast to work for your business? Start your own entrepreneurial journey.

Enjoying The Podcast? Review, Subscribe & Listen On Your Favorite Platform:

Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify