I believe we are at the beginning of the age of the entrepreneur and Startup and this period will become known as the entrepreneurial revolution.
Imagine if you will, just for a moment we could travel back through time to the early 1700s in Great Britain, the beginning of the Agrarian Revolution and knew if we would apply the latest knowledge of agriculture and farming of the day, it would lead to the multiplication of population densities by factors in the order of 10 plus.
What if we could travel back to the early 1800’s, the time of the Industrial Revolution where productive capacity grew by a net factor now in the order of 100, made possible through new products, new ways of life, and ongoing changes in the structure of civilization.
And what if we could all go back to the 1970’s and early 80’s, the beginning of the Digital / Information or Technological Revolution – I am sure many of us would be making different choices now than we did then.
You see in many ways my story has travelled from agriculture, through to manufacturing to services and now to this period of the entrepreneurial organisation and as a result, I believe today that there could not be a better time for setting up a business, but my caveat with this is what I call the 4 forces.
The four forces…
So what are the four forces…?
The first two are external and the remaining two are internal.
Let’s start with Globalisation…
I do not need to discuss this in too much detail as I am sure you are all aware of what a force this is but I think it is worthwhile picking up some of the finer points around demographics.
Harry Dent, a leading economic forecaster researches economic cycles and bubbles by looking at long term trends such as population changes.
For example, as we age, our needs differ, we shift from spenders to savers, if this is taken at a macro level looking at population demographics as well as other concepts such as urbanisation etc, Dent can predict to some degree economic outcomes of those countries.
Though not always the most positive reading, his books are incredibly insightful, particularly his recent one titled “The Demographic Cliff” and what he calls this deflationary period we are in now from 2014 to 2019.
A second book I have just picked up is from the McKinsey Global Institute – “No Ordinary Disruption”. This is a compelling read and includes a graphic showing how the evolution of the earth’s economic gravity is changing from India and China to Europe and back again.
While I am on the subject of books, I would also include Al Gore’s “The Future” – here he provides a similar perspective of the challenges and opportunities of these times.
Both Dent, McKinsey and Gore present the realities of this new environment that today’s entrepreneurs needs to navigate.
So what of Digitalisation?
In my Fair Trade business, I am familiar with the story of a small community of women in East Africa who without significant infrastructure apart from basically a smart phone and a local FedEx, set up an online shopping portal using Shopify and a PayPal account and are now selling their jewellery to the world. In return, they are building wells, schools and hospitals for their community.
How much more transformative can it get than that!
But this is just the beginning. People, communities, mums and dads need help, They need the assistance, the education, the investment, the helping hand.
So I think it is very much the role of the entrepreneur to facilitate this as we also pursue our own dreams and visions.
This brings me to collaboration.
I grew up in an environment in which my father had established his own manufacturing company. In those days, everything was done in house and the only external relationships apart from your customers, was your local bank manager, accountant and solicitor.
But things are different now…
Certainly from my perspective I am currently collaborating on a broad range of projects with people from the US, UK, and the Philippines and even from Kerala in southern India in which the types of collaboration involve anything from business operating models to one-on-one coaching / mentoring.
The point I am making is that by opening yourself up to building a network of people around you that you work together on for specific projects to achieve common goals is in my view today’s operating model for the Startup and entrepreneur.
So when John Donne wrote in 1624 the poem that included the words “no man is an island”, no truer words could be written today.
The last of my four forces is Mindset.
What I actually mean is you need to “re-wire: your brain” because a different way of thinking is required and if you were like me, coming from a corporate environment, then you definetley need to re-wire your brain.
For me, this has been the most difficult but most rewarding journey. I had to challenge some strongly held beliefs about business and about myself. I had to park my ego outside. I had to become a student – even when my teacher was not even born when I first left school!
How I did this re-wiring though was to seek out mentors.
I have shared with you some books I have read, I have even had the opportunity to meet with Harry Dent but of course other great thought leaders and entrepreneurs.
In fact I made a point several years ago to become a student and learn from those who are successful entrepreneurs, to understand how they think, how they create, how they make decisions and importantly relate to others.
My entrepreneurial journey in many ways is just starting off, but I have learned this…
If you want to become a successful entrepreneur, establish your own Startup, to scale up your business, you need to work on re-wiring your brain.
But you might say to me…
“Ross, I am OK with this part, it’s something else, it’s the finances or its competitors etc. that’s holding me back”
Well all I would say to you, if that is the case…
is just imagine for a moment, that there was something holding you back from a mindset point of view…
what could that be?
You see, whatever comes to mind will be the answer
…it always comes back to you!
That’s the exciting part to, because if it is with you, you own it, and you can overcome it.
That’s what I have learned and much of it is about how you can help others whether that be financially or in lifestyle…
Whatever that is, if you can do that, then you can be successful, not how people can help you to be successful.
So to sum up…
We are living in the age of the Startup and the beginning of the entrepreneurial revolution.
Success will be determined by the four forces of
The biggest challenge though to overcome is Mindset – we need to re-wire our brains.
But when we are successful, we as entrepreneurs will be able to make huge positive contributions to our communities, to help those who are in need, to create new opportunities and to transcend humanity.