“You didn’t build that” YES I DID!


It’s been a couple of weeks since Barack Obama, referring to small business, passionately declared words he probably now wished he hadn’t in a speech in Roanoke, Virginia. “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” He was referring to the country’s infrastructure – the roads and bridges.

Here’s a reality check on launching a business and making it a success. It takes more than a dream, and it takes more than roads and bridges. It takes sacrifice. Money. Time. Energy. Drive. Risk. And less government intervention. Rules and regulations on make it almost impossible for small entrepreneurs to succeed today.

This October TCW celebrates its 30th anniversary. Looking back, it’s almost farcical how politicians on both sides of the political fence have made stupid laws, levied more taxes and pandered to big business lobbyists, while small entrepreneurs struggle to deal with their ‘help.’ It’s painfully obvious that small business doesn’t really count to them. Entrepreneurs struggling to keep their ventures alive know that only too well.

Someone recently commented on how proud I must be to approach three decades of publishing. I’m not. Reflecting back, all I can say is that I plodded along, day after day, meeting deadlines and absorbed in making it work with significant help – certainly not from the government, but from a very small staff who shared a passion for highlighting the achievements of Chicago area women. And from the support of TCW advertisers, freelancers, and friends. In fact, the stories I could tell about trying and failing to fund a business with the help of government or financial institutions would make for a great sitcom. So, I guess another trait that should be added to an entrepreneur’s checklist is humor. And plenty of it.


About Sherren Leigh

Sherren Leigh is president and founder of Today's Chicago Woman and Today's Chicago Woman Foundation. She muses about life - the good, the bad, the ugly - and anything else that's on her mind in “Girl Talk.” Sometimes funny, other times serious, she's always thought-provoking and often controversial.