Skip To Content
    This post has not been vetted or endorsed by BuzzFeed's editorial staff. BuzzFeed Community is a place where anyone can create a post or quiz. Try making your own!

    These Five Small Business Owners Fought City Hall—And Won

    (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Earn an Honest Living)

    It's hard to be an entrepreneur in this economy—and many government regulations make it even harder. But there is hope. The Institute for Justice has published the Entrepreneur's Survival Guide, a free report filled with tips and tactics on how to fight back against laws that make it needlessly difficult to earn a living. IJ has helped small business owners all across the country, including:

    1. Hair Braiders Untangle Red Tape in Mississippi

    View this video on YouTube

    Honest Enterprise / Via youtube.com

    All Melony Armstrong wanted to do was teach others how to braid hair. But that would have turned her into a criminal.

    Melony is the proud owner of Naturally Speaking, a natural hair-braiding salon in Tupelo, Miss. In order to expand her business, she wanted to teach new hires the intricacies behind the art of African hair braiding.

    Yet the State Board of Cosmetology thwarted her plans. Melony could only legally teach braiding if she became a licensed cosmetology instructor. That was no easy feat. Mississippi required a whopping 3,200 hours of training and thousands of dollars in tuition. To put that in perspective, in less time, Melony could also train to become an emergency medical technician, an ambulance driver, hunting instructor and a firefighter—combined.

    So to vindicate her right to economic liberty, in 2004, she and the Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit in federal court and sued Mississippi. Melony also routinely traveled to the state capital in Jackson (a seven-hour round trip from Tupelo) to persuade legislators to embrace reform. Spurred by her efforts, state lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a bill to liberalize braiding. Now the state has some of the best braiding laws in the nation, requiring entrepreneurs to pay just $25 in registration fees and to complete a self-test on hygiene. Since the law was reformed, about 1,000 braiders have registered in Mississippi.

    Melony has gone on to teach over 125 people the art behind this venerated tradition, while her braiding business has employed 25 women. Ever determined to help other small business owners, Melony even testified before Congress earlier this year, urging legislators to “heed our calls to remove those laws that do nothing but prevent honest competition in trades from coast to coast.”

    2. Food Truck Owners Cook Up Victory in New Orleans

    3. Bagel Storeowner Punches a Hole in City’s Crazy Sign Code

    4. Taxi Drivers Ride for Freedom in Milwaukee

    View this video on YouTube

    Via youtube.com

    Ghaleb Ibrahim left his native Jordan back in the 1970s to pursue his American dream. He wanted to run his own business driving his own taxicab. But in Milwaukee, protectionist restrictions made that dream impossible for all but the very wealthy.

    Since 1991, the city had implemented a cap on cabs, so over time, the number of legal taxis in the city dwindled to just 321, or one cab for every 1,850 people—one of the worst ratios in the nation. The price for a cab “medallion,” or permit, skyrocketed from just $85 to $150,000. In fact, it cost more to start a taxi company than to buy a house. So cab drivers would usually have to drive someone else’s car to make a living.

    Fed up, Ghaleb, two other cab drivers and the Institute for Justice sued the city. Amidst their lawsuit, they also rallied supporters. To protest the city’s severe restrictions, 40 taxi drivers held a peaceful “freedom ride,” emblazoned with banners reading “Taxi Freedom: Let Me Own My Own Cab!”

    In 2013, a judge ruled there was “no rational basis” behind the cap. In response to the lawsuit, the Common Council first raised the cap by 100 cabs and then repealed it entirely this past July.

    5. Texas Interior Designers Show the First Amendment Isn’t Out of Style

    Government got you down? Never fear. Fight back with a FREE copy of the Entrepreneur's Survival Guide.