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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Government Red Tape Hurts Millennial Entrepreneurs

Impatient and eager to move on to the next big thing, millennials are a generation born to innovate. But that means the traditional market has to evolve with us.


Millennials have been major catalysts in changing the rules of the traditional marketplace. Impatient and eager to move on to the next big thing, we are a generation born to innovate. But venturing into uncharted territory, though groundbreaking, means that we have to force the traditional market to evolve with our revolutionary methods.

The only thing preventing millennials from making an even greater impact on the economy is bureaucracy.From the sharing economy to food trucks and hipster-made craft beer, millennials have found a way to make money in a manner that fits their unique lifestyles. As with most successful market endeavors, the only thing preventing millennials from making an even greater impact on the economy is government bureaucracy.

Rebecca Mueller left her career in the finance world to pursue her dream of being a fashion designer. After graduating from fashion school in Chicago, Mueller decided not to relocate to greener pastures and instead set out to contribute to the local economy.

Planning to buy all her supplies from local vendors, Mueller wanted to open up a mobile boutique that would operate like a closet on wheels. Confident in her interpretation of the city statutes on peddler licenses, Mueller headed to City Hall full of hope and ready to make her dream a reality. It didn’t take long for her dream to turn into a bureaucratic nightmare. At City Hall, she was denied her peddler’s license.

Mueller had purchased a 25-foot truck and had planned to stop at different locations around the city and sell her original clothing. Unfortunately, the city informed her that in order to qualify for a tradition peddler’s license, she would not be able to park her mobile boutique and set up shop. This is a problem that many foods truck owners have faced while attempting to start their businesses.

The city assured Mueller that they were working on legislation to cater to innovative businesses like hers, but there was no clear answer as to when this would actually happen. After months without any real answers, Mueller was no closer to opening up her boutique.

Enter Institute for Justice

Desperate to get the wheels rolling, she decided to seek help from Institute for Justice’s (IJ) law clinic on the University of Chicago campus. IJ was able to tell Mueller what the government neglected to, that in fact there was a license available that would allow her business to operate her unique business.

The “emerging business license” was created in 2012 to accommodate for innovative businesses which do not fit into preexisting regulations. The emerging business license gives the entrepreneur two years to operate their business. The understanding being that in those two years, the local government will work to create reasonable regulations. However, prior to Mueller’s inquiry, the license had only been issued once since 2012. Fortunately for Mueller, she was able to get approved for the emerging license and after large amounts of time and money were spent, her mobile boutique was able to open up earlier this month.

When it comes to innovative Millennials trying to start new businesses, Mueller’s sentiment expressed in her local op-ed really drives the point home:

“I hope the next novel business to make its way to City Hall is met with a red carpet instead of a maze of red tape.”

This first appeared at Generation Opportunity.


  • Brittany is a writer for the Pacific Legal Foundation. She is a co-host of “The Way The World Works,” a Tuttle Twins podcast for families.