Rebels with a Cause

Entrepreneurs and creators really are rebels: they set out on new paths, establish new businesses, and bring new inventions, and new services into our lives. That often doesn’t go over well with existing companies that prefer to use their political influence to block new companies from competing in the market. They’ll frequently use the government to restrict potential competition by passing laws that make things harder for newcomers—like licensing laws, zoning restrictions, or other regulations that are so expensive to comply with that a new business can’t afford to compete.

The sharing economy often gets around these restrictions by devising new business models, or ways of doing business that weren’t anticipated when the government passed these restrictions. The problem is, government often sees this as all the more reason to shut down new companies.

Take Flytenow: an app that allowed pilots to share rides in small planes with interested passengers, the way Uber does with cars. The Federal Aviation Administration decided that the company qualified as a commercial airline, even though the pilots didn’t make any money—passengers just paid for a portion of fuel and other expenses. That didn’t stop bureaucrats from shutting the company down.