Starting a business requires passion and determination, but in Austin, entrepreneurs often face significant challenges due to the city’s lack of a master checklist for navigating city regulations. The city scatters regulatory mandates across multiple websites from various agencies, making it difficult for entrepreneurs to navigate the process.
Cities Work, a nonpartisan consulting initiative from the Institute for Justice, quantifies the pain of starting a restaurant business in Austin. A sample of 20 cities shows that aspiring restaurant owners must fill out as many as 22 forms, interact with as many as 14 agencies, complete 17 in-person activities, and pay as many as 20 fees totaling as much as $22,648. This regulatory burden is too high for entrepreneurs to navigate.
The Cities Work initiative looks at the startup process for other business types and finds similar results across the board. Launching an enterprise is complex, time-consuming, and expensive regardless of the industry or location.
Austin can promote entrepreneurship by getting out of the way and letting people innovate. If regulations are necessary for public health and safety, the city can ease the burden by putting information online in one centralized portal with step-by-step guides for each business type.
Small businesses drive the economy, and Austin should do everything it can to help them. Creating unnecessary barriers to market entry does the opposite. Launching a venture should not require a law degree.
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