Weston Wamp: Five Ways That Startups And Government Play By Different Rules

Saturday, June 21, 2014

For almost four years, I have worked alongside a dozen growing companies being supported by the venture business incubator I helped start. As a founding director at Lamp Post Group and the son of a former congressman, I’ve seen with vivid detail the differences in the earnest mentality of startup companies and the regressive mentality of our government.

While some of our nation’s youngest, most ambitious companies and entrepreneurs are innovating light years ahead of Washington, the gap needs to be bridged now more than ever. 

Here are five ways I’ve seen startup companies and out-of-touch government play by different sets of rules. 

1. In business if you blame others, you get fired. 

The singular biggest difference in business and government is the tolerance of pointing fingers. In a startup environment, there’s no time for bickering. Every one is working and pushing in the same direction; if you can’t be a team player then it won’t be long before you’re shown the door.  

In Washington, blaming someone else has become a key strategy in the rat race. Both sides of the aisle are equally guilty. The easiest path to re-election is to make the other party look as bad as possible. Talking about solutions is difficult, intellectually demanding and risky. That’s why Democrats and Republicans avoid substance, particularly as elections near. 

2. Nothing happens without risk. 

Risk aversion is ruining Washington. While calculated risk is the lifeblood of entrepreneurship, no more than a few members of Congress have shown the willingness to work across the aisle, address our debt and needed long-term entitlement reforms. All of these require risk. There is no risk in dropping press releases or tele-town-halls in which the questions are pre-screened. The risk aversion has become so profound that many elected representatives do not even communicate openly with the media, instead using out-of-state spokesmen to protect themselves.

On the flipside, entrepreneurs are motivated by impact. Risk is invited and disrupting the status quo is the name of the game. Some of our business owners at Lamp Post even cashed life insurance policies to provide the initial capital to fund their ventures. 

3) You spend no more than you have. 

One of Lamp Post’s best known companies has scribbled on a white board in the middle of their office, “Days until we run out of money.” I wish that Washington thought that way. 

This creates a sense of urgency for every member of this growing company’s team. Though they have received significant outside investment, their day of reckoning is coming if they don’t perform.  

In Washington, the solution to our catastrophic generational debt has been to print and borrow more money hoping that the next generation never awakens to hold them accountable. 

4) Efficiency is king. 

Startups pride themselves on squeezing dimes out of nickels. One of the companies I’ve worked closely with has a sales team of two that has reached out to tens of thousands of potential leads in the last year alone. They have pulled it off by using the latest customer relationship management technology, creative day-part scheduling and a lot of hard work.

In government, not only is duplication and fraud widespread, there is a paralyzing level of ignorance and laziness in many government departments. What may be atthe heart of the Veteran Administration’s problems? Could it be the fact that VA hospitals are still using MS DOS software to manage critical aspects of veterans’ care? MS DOS was originally released in 1981.

5) No one agrees 98 percent of the time. And that’s okay.

I have seen some knock down drag out arguments over Lamp Post’s nearly four years in business. In every case, something productive came out of the disagreements and the parties involved eventually came together and got back to work. In many cases, the most successful business partners are people with widely differing opinions and perspectives, the combination of which serves a company well. 

While I am a strong conservative , the most mindless hypocrisy in Washington is the expectation that Republicans agree with Republicans 98 percent of the time and Democrats do the same. It denies common sense, human nature and genetics. Unless there is literally a political gene I’m unaware of that creates pure political party loyalists. Washington needs independent thinking and would benefit from intellectually honest debates across party lines. 

Weston Wamp

City Fathers Need To Formally Recognize The Late Bob Elmore - And Response (3)

Our city fathers have a long overdue opportunity to correct an oversight.  If the late Bob Elmore had been an elected official or a man of great wealth, with his contributions to Chattanooga, there would be buildings, bridges, or streets named in his honor.  Please read just some of Mr. Elmore’s accomplishments and see for yourself that some formal recognition should be ... (click for more)

Misconceptions About Ban The Box

Mr. Exum,  I want to invite you as a guest speaker at the NAACP General Membership meeting.  I believe we can accomplish our goals and clear up any misconceptions about Ban The Box and the role of the NAACP in a much more meaningful manner face to face.   In that vein I would like to invite you to have coffee with me at Panera Bread.  I will not make a ... (click for more)

Larry Schumacher Named Chief Executive Officer Of CHI Memorial

T he board of directors of CHI Memorial and Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) have chosen Larry Schumacher as the chief executive officer (CEO) of CHI Memorial effective Jan. 4, 2016 . Mr. Schumacher comes to CHI Memorial from Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) based in Springfield, Illinois where he served as system chief operating officer for the past eight years.  ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Under Flood Watch Through Wednesday

With a steady rain set to continue through Wednesday, Chattanooga is under a flood watch. Over four inches of rain are expected in some areas. Here is the advisory from the National Weather Service: ...LOCALIZED FLOODING POSSIBLE ACROSS EAST TENNESSEE AND SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING... .THE COMBINATION OF DEEP SUBTROPICAL MOISTURE AND A SLOW MOVING FRONTAL ... (click for more)

Foster and Auriemma - Hall of Fame Coaches – Meet at McKenzie Arena Tonight

  A young basketball coach with lots of drive and knowledge but little money was in desperate need of a dependable car to get from home to work and back. A good friend gave his reliable $100 car to the coach and went out and replaced it with another $100 car. That same friend – also an up-and-coming coach – had also helped his brother a few years earlier by taking a ... (click for more)

Ryan Parker and Traneil Moore Are Mr Football Winners

Senior Ryan Parker of Baylor School and junior Traneil Moore of  East Ridge have been selected as Tennessee Titans Mr. Football winners for 2015. Parker is the D-II AA Lineman of the Year and Moore is the D-I 3A Back of the Year Ryan Parker - Baylor School ... senior linebacker/running back ... 2015 stats included 95 tackles, 30 tackles for loss, eight quarterback sacks, ... (click for more)