A Love Letter to the American Entrepreneur

A Love Letter to the American Entrepreneur

A Love Letter to the American Entrepreneur

My oldest daughter is an artist. A talented one. As I write this, we’re separated by about 800 miles, but I’m pretty sure that I know what she’s doing at the moment.

She’s drawing. It’s what she’s best at. It’s what she was born to do.

Recently, she started selling customized T-shirts through Instagram. Watching her design four colorful, inventive advertisements with her usual skill and confidence, it struck me that her entrepreneurial and artistic instincts are closely aligned.

They’re both expressions of an innate desire for freedom. This desire is childlike, curious, innovative. It’s optimistic and never bored. It resents being bossed around, because it’s perfectly capable of bossing itself. It knows what it wants and pursues it single-mindedly until it gets it.

While I can’t draw worth a damn, I am familiar with the pleasure of building something from the ground up. I understand the satisfaction of working for myself, with no one looking over my shoulder. And I believe that I—and the more than 200,000 business owners who use Nav—got into small business in the first place because we’re driven by the same childlike desire for independence and freedom that motivates my daughter.

The Fourth of July always reminds me of how closely freedom and entrepreneurship are tied. There’s something so very American about venturing out on your own—the risk, the responsibility, the opportunity to determine your own fate and the freedom to potentially fail.

There’s no national holiday where everyone takes off work and we celebrate the entrepreneur. Perhaps that’s just as well, because business owners rarely take a day off themselves. But Independence Day has always felt like a holiday that honors the scrappy startup, the long-time business owner who’s survived decades of change, the wannabe mogul just starting out.

I love the phrase “the American experiment.” Now, more than ever, we need the hard-charging, not-afraid-to-fail spirit that small business owners bring to that experiment. It’s been a constant in our country and a necessary part of our continued success.

So, to our customers and to all of the entrepreneurs out there, keep it up. Stay optimistic and young at heart. Do what you were born to do. Today, as we celebrate so many qualities that make America great, I’ll be thinking about you.

This article was originally written on July 4, 2017.

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Levi King

Levi King is the Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Nav. Raised on a farm in rural Idaho, King is a self-taught, serial entrepreneur who has started seven different small businesses in the last 20 years. During this time, he had to work to overcome the same issues faced by most small business owners – access to capital, financing, and marketplace credibility. After getting a handle on how business credit works, Levi was able to get business loans and financing more than 30 times. Prior to starting Nav, he co-founded Lendio, a business financing marketplace that links commercial lenders and small business owners. While at Lendio, Levi saw too many applicants get denied for financing or only get approved for financing they couldn’t afford. He realized someone needed to help business owners become better-qualified applicants, which led him to start Nav. Levi’s has regular columns in Inc., Entrepreneur and Forbes, and is a frequent conference speaker and source for reporters covering small business, credit, lending and fintech.

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