The Burden of Regulation: The Challenges Faced by Education Entrepreneurs

The Burden of Regulation: The Challenges Faced by Education Entrepreneurs

Navigating the Complexities of Postsecondary Career School Licensing

Education entrepreneurship offers a world of creative opportunities, allowing individuals to shape the future of learning. However, amidst the excitement and innovation, there lies a daunting challenge: the arduous process of obtaining postsecondary career school licensing. For Debbie Carlson, the founder and owner of Faces Etc of MN, a Minneapolis-based makeup artistry training center, this annual application has become a source of frustration and anxiety. In this article, we explore Carlson’s journey through the labyrinthine world of regulatory requirements and the impact it has on small-business owners in the education sector.

A Daunting Task: Navigating the State’s Requirements

As Carlson embarked on the journey of formalizing her school as a postsecondary career institution, she encountered the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, which demanded an extensive array of documents and records. From financial statements to course catalogs, proof of insurance to audit letters, the state’s requirements seemed overwhelming for a small business owner like her. With limited guidance from regulators, Carlson had to dedicate countless hours to deciphering the statutes and assembling the necessary paperwork. The process was a far cry from the support provided to larger institutions, leaving her feeling like a lone warrior in an uphill battle.

Industry Opposition: The Battle with the Minnesota Board of Cosmetology

Carlson’s decision to incorporate makeup artistry into her curriculum brought her face-to-face with another challenge: resistance from the Minnesota Board of Cosmetology. As she sought to fill a gap in the state-mandated beauty school curriculum, industry insiders felt threatened and used their influence to challenge her. The clash exemplified the obstacles faced by education entrepreneurs when trying to innovate within a regulated industry.

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A Web of Regulations: The Multitude of Government Entities

The hurdles faced by Carlson extended beyond the state level. As a small-business owner, she had to navigate a complex web of regulations imposed by county and city agencies in Minneapolis. From zoning and fire safety to health, sanitation, and business licensing requirements, the process was convoluted and time-consuming. The lack of clarity regarding the steps, duration, and costs further exacerbated the challenges faced by education entrepreneurs.

The Heavy Burden on Small-Business Owners

Small-business owners play a crucial role in driving the economy. They create jobs, contribute to tax revenues, and provide valuable goods and services to their communities. Carlson’s own business, Faces Etc of MN, has not only enriched her local community but has also attracted students from neighboring states and countries, stimulating the local economy. Instead of burdening these entrepreneurs with excessive regulations, cities should prioritize supporting and nurturing their growth.

The Need for Reform: Simplifying Processes and Reducing Costs

While there have been some improvements in recent years, Carlson believes that more reforms are necessary to alleviate the regulatory burden on education entrepreneurs. A Minneapolis website now offers step-by-step instructions for entrepreneurs, showcasing the city’s commitment to streamlining processes. However, fees remain prohibitively high, delays persist, and the overall complexity of the system hampers progress. Carlson advocates for further reforms to ensure that small-business owners can focus on their core mission of providing quality education rather than drowning in paperwork.


Debbie Carlson’s experience highlights the challenges faced by education entrepreneurs in navigating the labyrinthine world of postsecondary career school licensing. The burdensome nature of the process, coupled with industry opposition and a web of regulations from various government entities, poses significant barriers to innovation and growth. As cities strive to foster a supportive environment for small-business owners, it is crucial to simplify processes, reduce costs, and provide clear guidance. By doing so, we can unlock the full potential of education entrepreneurship and empower these visionary individuals to shape the future of learning.

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