Policy Agenda: Entrepreneurship & Freelance Economy

Small Business Majority
Wed, 07/03/2019

Entrepreneurship is a potent force for positive change in a diverse society and economy—from addressing long-term unemployment to providing high quality jobs to helping revitalize distressed neighborhoods and rural communities. A healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem provides an innovative pathway for women, people of color, youth, veterans and immigrants to enter the mainstream American economy and build income and independence.

We must to do all we can to ensure our economy flourishes by implementing the following policy recommendations to support entrepreneurship.

Expand access to entrepreneurial assistance resources

  • Support measures to provide more funding and resources for business assistance centers that provide vital education and outreach to business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs such as Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women's Business Centers and the Minority Business Development Agency.
  • Promote U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and other programs that foster peer-to-peer mentoring and encourage expanded procurement opportunities for very small businesses, particularly those owned and run by women and entrepreneurs of color.
  • Ensure programs that support rural entrepreneurs maintain full funding. For example, the 2018 Farm Bill provided funding for the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development programs, including the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, Rural Business Development Grants and the Intermediary Relending Program.
  • Create a "Startup Visa" for foreign-born entrepreneurs who wish to start a business in the United States. This visa would come with certain requirements, such as raising an initial amount of funding and creating a number of jobs for non-family members. A study by the Kauffman Foundation concluded that granting 75,000 such startup visas would create between 500,000 and 1.6 million new American jobs within 10 years.

Modernize licensing and certification requirements

  • Conduct regular reviews of state and local business licensing requirements and update outdated regulations. For example, a new California law legalizes the sale of home-cooked meals, with appropriate health and safety standards and revenue limitations.
  • Amend state licensing and permitting costs in order to spur growth in key industries. For example, Connecticut established an Entrepreneurial Learner's Permit program that provides up to $1,500 in reimbursements for state licensing and permitting costs to first-time entrepreneurs in areas with high growth potential.

Position independent entrepreneurs for success

  • Support easy-to-implement mechanisms for the self-employed to access paid family and medical leave, retirement benefits and quality and affordable childcare.
  • Ensure self-employed entrepreneurs have full access to healthcare coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act, including fully funding outreach efforts to communicate the benefits of the individual healthcare insurance marketplaces to the self-employed.
  • Support federal and state efforts to ensure that entrepreneurs can benefit from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program. As one of our nation's largest anti-poverty programs, expansion of the EITC can have a powerful effect on economic security for entrepreneurs and independent workers. States like California have expanded the EITC to include the self-employed, and in the first year of that policy’s implementation a half a million self-employed entrepreneurs signed up for the program.
  • Identify and fix tax issues unique to micro-enterprises and freelancers, such as burdensome quarterly tax filings for freelance employees. 
  • Pass healthcare tax equity for the self-employed, so that freelancers can deduct their healthcare expenses from their FICA tax obligations—just like other business entities.
  • Create a student debt relief program for entrepreneurs. This would benefit many aspiring entrepreneurs, especially millennials, who wish to start businesses that could create new jobs and inject money into our nation’s economy.