Startup Nations Policy Dialogue

Startup Nations Policy Dialogue


The Startup Nations Policy Dialogue provides an opportunity to gather policymakers and ecosystem leaders for a discussion -- at the local, state or national level -- about innovative policy approaches to empower entrepreneurs in your community. The model has been used to share best practices and stimulate action at a growing number of sessions around the world. 

About the Startup Nations Policy Dialogues

Open communication between policymakers and entrepreneurs has become more urgent in a post COVID-19 world. Governments are keen to remove barriers to new job creation and to be prepared for regulatory challenges that arise as startups disrupt pre-pandemic traditional industries.

Startup Nations Policy Dialogues are designed to facilitate policymaker-entrepreneur engagement at the local, national and regional levels and are usually hosted to:

  • Ask entrepreneurs to share tangible examples with policymakers about barriers slowing them from starting or scaling a new venture.
  • Ask policymakers to share information about planned government-led interventions to accelerate new firm formation for entrepreneur feedback via a live Q&A.
  • Invite the entrepreneurship ecosystem to learn about new policies introduced by government.

Why Convene a Startup Nations Policy Dialogue?

  • A Startup Nations Policy Dialogue conveys a strong message that you support and listen to the the starters in your community who are taking risks, innovating, and creating jobs.
  • Entrepreneurs and the organizations that support them appreciate the time you carve out of your agenda to make yourself available to discuss important issues to them.
  • Startup Nations Policy Dialogues have a wide appeal – especially from startup communities which may not normally have an opportunity to interface with government.
  • The event can happen anywhere (even virtually). As outlined below, it is typically very simple in format, and it is generally free to organize.
  • Your event will be part of a global series of conversations driven by startup-savvy policymakers committed to advancing the entrepreneurial economy. You will be invited to join this community of your peers also grappling with the smartest ways to help enable your job creators help with economic recovery under reduced budgets.

Sample Run-of-Show

Event length: 1 hour

0:00 – 0:05: Moderator makes opening remarks and thanks the public officials and the community for taking the time to discuss entrepreneurship policy

0:05 – 0:10: Brief welcome remarks from the hosting policymaker(s)

0:10 – 0:30: Moderated, fire-side chat type discussion with the policymaker(s). See question prompts below based on the four pillars from the America’s New Business Plan framework

0:30 – 0:45: Q&A with the audience

0:45 – 0:50: Policymaker final remarks

0:50 – 1:00: Conclusion of Startup Nations Policy Dialogue

Discussion Topics: Questions + Quick Facts


Starting with the issue of capital makes sense as it often is the most common barrier known to experts and non-experts and because it is one of entrepreneurs’ most immediate needs. Entrepreneurs continually emphasize the need for getting access to the right kind of capital at the right time, including patient capital and other innovative models that give them an opportunity to get their businesses off the ground.

Discussion Questions:

  • How do we get more capital into the middle of America?
  • Can you provide examples of specific barriers entrepreneurs are facing when it comes to accessing the financing their business needs?
  • Which policy or program innovations can democratize access to capital?
  • How can the government and the ecosystem work together to expand the pool of capital?

Quick Facts: (more in America’s New Business Plan):

  • At least 83% of all entrepreneurs do not access bank loans or venture capital.
  • Almost 65% rely on personal and family savings for startup capital and close to 10% carry balances on their personal credit cards.
  • Even before the crisis took hold, it was far easier for men to start businesses than for women, minorities and rural residents. 34% of male entrepreneurs said it's very easy to start a business. Only 13% of people of color and 15% of women felt the same.
  • Just 2% of VC goes to businesses launched by women and just 1% goes to businesses launched by people of color.


Moving to opportunity, burdensome red tape makes it expensive and difficult to start and run a business. Red tape often threatens to put millions of entrepreneurs out of business who can’t navigate the complexities of government assistance programs.

Discussion Questions:

  • What has been your experience evaluating the various rules and regulations from the perspective of new and young small businesses?
  • If there is one law or regulation you could change right now to support entrepreneurs — what would that be?

Quick Facts: (more in America’s New Business Plan):

  • Before the crisis, more than 50% of entrepreneurs reported having difficulty navigating initial paperwork.
  • While Congress defined small business as those with under 500 employees, we know that it is those with fewer than 20 employees who really struggle navigating regulations and government support mechanisms. For example, to receive a for federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, your odds were a lot stronger if you had a team of attorneys, private bankers and accountants to help you navigate the complex system and secure capital.
  • Both new and old businesses agree that government favors entrenched, large business over new business.


Starting a business is a courageous act, and far too many entrepreneurs take that risk without really knowing where to begin or understanding the requirements and barriers that come with turning an idea into reality. In this section of the Startup Nations Policy Dialogue you should think about the ecosystem around entrepreneurs that provides mentorship, training and information.

Discussion Questions:

  • One of the biggest advantages for a connected entrepreneur is getting support from skilled professionals who can help them navigate challenging new terrain. Are there support policies that connect entrepreneurs to those who can show them the ropes, and programs that teach entrepreneurs the skills needed to successfully launch a business?
  • How is the government supporting the development of entrepreneurship ecosystems that help everyday Americans start businesses?
  • Where and what kind of information can entrepreneurs access to help them navigate the process of setting up shop? Is there information or training that would be useful to new business founders?
  • How is our education system doing ensuring a strong current of new entrepreneurs and talent?

Quick Facts: (more in America’s New Business Plan):

  • Underserved entrepreneurs have fewer connections to relevant resources than existing business owners do.
  • 41% of Americans would quit their job and start a new business in the next six months if they had proper tools and resources.
  • 55% of established business owners had more than five other business owners in their network, compared to 39% of new entrepreneurs.
  • Over 80% of new and old businesses had support from friends and family. But start-ups have much smaller business networks – fellow business-owners they can turn to for advice.


It is no secret that starting a new business requires an enormous leap of faith — quitting a job without a guaranteed income — and doing it with costs of student loans, childcare and other day-to-day expenses.

Discussion Questions:

  • How do you plan to address Americans’ financial concerns that limit risk-taking?
  • Which safety nets are necessary to support entrepreneurial risk-taking, especially for female, minority, immigrant, and rural entrepreneurs?
  • What kind of additional relief could state and local policymakers provide to encourage entrepreneurial endeavors in the current context so as to ensure the next generation of entrepreneurs is not locked out of opportunities to improve their economic situations?

Quick Facts: (more in America’s New Business Plan):

  • Prior to starting their businesses, nearly half of entrepreneurs feared the loss of job security, while nearly four in ten were concerned about losing health insurance.
  • A 2010 study found that increased tax deductions for health insurance for self-employed workers increased the likelihood of new business creation.
  • 75% of millennials who own, plan to own, or would like to own a business listed the lack of an employer-sponsored retirement plan as a barrier to entrepreneurship.
  • 43% of millennials say student debt affects their ability to invest in their business or to hire new employees.

Next Steps: Register Your Activity + Add the Badge

Select a date, time and location for your event between November 16-22, 2020, and register the event details on, selecting “Register Activity”.

For most GEW activities, we encourage partners to use the GEW ‘Official Event’ badge. For this activity, you may choose to use the Startup Nations Policy Dialogue ‘Official Event’ badge instead of (or in addition to), if you like.

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SNPD Official Event