14 September 2005

Frustration To Fun

How long does it take to launch a business in Puerto Rico?

According to a variety of sources, and based on 20 years' personal experience of consulting and business development, the average time is around 10 months. Let's call it 300 days or a little longer than the average gestation period of a baby.

Now there are some persons out there who are scoffing at that number...mainly because it's too short. And The Jenius is hard-pressed to not give these scoffers a tip of the hat for being more right than wrong.

The lengthy and ridiculous time it takes to launch a business in Puerto Rico is not the result of a lack of talent, knowledge and/or experience on the part of local entrepreneurs. Our People can match business savvy with anybody on the planet. (We may lose from time to time, but We will win more often than We lose.) To no surprise, the main obstacle to launching a business here is a faulty government structure.

And no, it's not limited capital. Our underground economy is almost equal to the "open" economy in terms of cash. Many times, projects The Jenius has helped develop have been funded from "underground" cash clearly not linked to illegal activities. (Think cash-based work and a desire to keep savings hidden from taxes...) Several times, the funding amounts exceeded $100,000. So no, limited capital is not the reason.

The government ringalevio to get a business started has elements of Byzantine bureaucracy, Pavlovian conditioning and Stalinist cruelty, with a hefty dash of P.T. Barnum thrown in to give it an American flair. The level of incompetence in this arena must cost Puerto Rico billions of dollars a year in lost economic growth, not to mention that it has steadily eroded the attractiveness of the Island as an investment site.

A small example: A local company developing a computer chip for Voice-over-IP (VoIP) applications repeatedly had their Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (a government agency) forms returned because their water consumption was considered "incorrect." The forms, geared to manufacturing, were being reviewed expecting hundreds, hopefully thousands of gallons of water a day as part of their production. With 5 people on staff, the rational answer of "1-2 gallons" was simply incomprehensible. Each returned set of forms added 60-90 days of processing time to the business launch. A matter that could have been cleared by simply listening/reading with a normal level of understanding to what the project really needed was not within the range of PRIDCO. And so a company that could have come together in under a year took almost two years to "open its doors." Byzantine, rigid, mindlessly cruel, more sham than substance...the government as obstacle.

Is it getting better? No. Will it get better? Why should it? Because We need it? We need many things, but The Fools have made it clear that what We need means nothing to their base urges. The clear option is to simply sidestep the government and launch businesses without their "help". Sure, certain regulations and laws must be obeyed, but even these can be greatly reduced with the power of the Internet. To continue the path of government-based and government-dependent business launches is to walk under the "Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here" sign.

The trend to avoid that walk has already begun: it will take more of Our efforts to make it a truly effective tool for economic growth in Puerto Rico. Forget frustration: think "fun". Think "fast, frenzied, results-based success!" And help Us make a bigger difference.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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