As this great country continues to work its way out of difficult financial times, many people look to the future and wonder what will be the “next great thing” that will invigorate the business world. My contention is America is at the forefront of a great new wave of entrepreneurism. For far too long the smart people went into banking, financial services, large high tech companies and other large enterprises like General Electric. Times are changing. Smart people are leaving these industries in droves, both voluntarily and involuntarily. You talk to almost anyone in large corporations and they complain about the daily life, lack of decision-making, and general malaise of corporate life. Many stay because they have a job and lack risk tolerance to go on their own.
Again, times are changing. In the past, MBA schools weren’t open and eager to teach entrepreneurialism either because many of it’s students had their tuition paid by large corporations, or because these same corporations support the schools financially, or students saw it as the fastest way to a corporate job. However, many MBA schools have now embraced teaching entrepreneurialism and are seeing students gravitate in mass to these studies. With the pullback in corporate support, students are now driven to make their own decisions and what gives them the most risk/reward potential. As Gen X and Gen Y become more of the leaders in society, their motivations are driven beyond the classic normal factors. Fulfillment of life goes beyond salary, and building something that will have a more meaningful impact, either by employing people or giving back to their community through services, have become priorities.
My contention is that these corporate “nomads” will start to find each other. They are highly educated and understand the operating principles of business. What they need help with is the risk profile of an entrepreneur. Through education, and most of all through trial and error of running a small business, this group will lead the resurgence of the business community. America needs this to happen and the government should offer incentives to promote the growth of entrepreneurialism. Let’s look at the numbers that the Kauffman Foundation released this year after studying the US government’s data set called Business Dynamics Statistics. From 1997 to 2005, existing companies were net job destroyers, losing one million jobs annually, while new businesses in their first year added an average of three million jobs annually. Corporate America is NOT where the jobs are created. Entrepreneurs and Small Business leaders are the job creators in this country. We need to embrace and exploit this fact as the New Entrepreneurialism Age grows over the next decade. Federal and local governments need to embrace this growth and cater to small business, as these are the growth engines of the future. Over the next eight years, America and Corporate America will struggle in a tough environment due to the deleveraging that needs to continue happening, deflation then inflation, and the end of a nasty debt driven recession.
Entrepreneurs will also struggle, but they understand the ups and downs better because they live with these day to day in their business. They also have an optimistic attitude and a drive in their gut to succeed. Entrepreneurs are passionate about what they do and will work day and night to get their job done. They are problem solvers. Corporate America has lost this trait over the last several years as making money became somewhat easy. No more. The other key to the entrepreneurial rise is access to capital. With debt tight but opening in the future, entrepreneurs have sought out capital through equity offerings. Much of the smart money looking to be placed understands this fact. Investors continue funding entrepreneurs even through these tough times. Returns still look attractive in these investments, even on a risk-based standard. The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article talking about the growth of “Super Angel” investor groups. I believe the growth in angel investing groups will help drive the smaller entrepreneur at a faster pace than ever before. The next decade will be very tough, but I believe the following decade will be the new “Roaring Twenties”. Now is the time to either be an entrepreneur or invest in one. The new wave is coming and I for one am excited every day to have the opportunity to not only be an entrepreneur, but invest in other entrepreneurs as well. We will as a country, get through our issues and the entrepreneur will be a driving force to bring this country to a new level.
Photo from Guerrilla Futures / Jason Tester on Flickr
I recently read a press release from the IT research analyst company Gartner. They discussed a study of 1600 CIO’s who were asked about 2010 IT budgets, technology priorities and business priorities. While the response on budgets was flat at best, I thought their business priorities echoed what I have been seeing in the marketplace. The top three business priorities were as follows:
1. Business Process Improvement
2. Reducing Enterprise Costs
3. Increasing the use of Information and Analytics
This validates what my customers are telling me. Executives are tired of hearing their employees say “Well this is how we have always done it”. Today’s technology is too flexible, affordable, and easy to use. There is no reason why any company should not take a serious look at how technology can reduce manual processes and duplications of effort and increase employee productivity.
If you haven’t looked at technology because you don’t know where to start, I understand. There is a vast amount of technology products and vendors available to the marketplace. Each one spins their technology to be the best. While the last thing you want is to meet with salespeople every day who will bring in nice brochures of their products, you do want to find someone who understands the technology landscape. This person, which I call the “trusted advisor”, will discuss your problems and educate you on types of technology to solve them before they ever drill into a specific product.
Technology has become a driving force for competing and surviving in any industry. If you haven’t look how it can change your day-to-day business, its time that you do. So go find your trusted advisor to lead you down the greater productivity path. Happy hunting!
I have linked to the Gartner press release for anyone interested in reading it.
Gartner EXP Worldwide Survey of Nearly 1,600 CIOs Shows IT Budgets in 2010 to be at 2005 Levels
Photo from Minasodaboy on Flickr
“Innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or a different service”
The statement above was written back in 1985 by Peter Drucker in his book “Innovation and Entrepreneurship”. Today, this statement has more meaning than ever before. Drucker understood that the means to growing a business comes from productivity and innovation. We have become much more productive in our work life primarily due to our competing environments and the great technology revolution. Small business entrepreneurs understand this best and have become the growth cycle of the workforce. Today, small business employs half of the 144 million private sector workers and creates 60 to 80 percent of new private sector jobs. Here is where the US economic future lies. However, do small businesses really understand and optimally use technology and have true innovation?
Most believe technology is hardware or software. These are tools for technology. The real answer is innovation lies in the process. Small businesses now have the ability to use technology tools that just a few years ago were the exclusive property of large enterprises. Defining and improving the process with technological tools allows the costs of starting and operating a small business to decrease, while the opportunity for innovations increases. The power and ability to succeed has never been better for the small business community. As very successful and intelligent people leave corporate America, we are at the start of a great age of innovation for small business entrepreneurs.
For small business leaders to improve the process of doing business with technology, leadership is critical. Change is the scariest factor for many small business leaders. We all have lived through tough changes from new IT systems, to changing service providers. However, successful small business leaders understand the importance of efficient operations with updated technology systems. Highly innovative companies and leaders understand risk taking and the willingness to experiment and understand new ideas and processes. Many small business leaders encourage and reward innovative behavior because these behaviors have a direct contribution to the bottom line. Leadership is not always easy or glamorous. True leaders understand processes that lead to future profits or savings, need to be identified and then have the courage to act. They also know, by keeping an eye on these changes and embracing better process control, innovation as well as profits will grow beyond their competitors.
Innovation can occur in all aspects of business. Successful small businesses innovate in how they interact with customers, produce products, manage employees and deal with day-to-day issues. By looking at processes in one or many of these areas, small businesses can improve their bottom line by becoming more efficient, therefore saving time and money. In the end, small businesses can increase profitability while also increasing customer value, unique to many companies in today’s world.
We at Sivad believe in improving small business processes through the use of technology. Not only do we believe in this ideal, but it is our passion. We pride ourselves on looking at your processes and helping you build a more efficiently run business that has the ability to innovate quicker. Ultimately, your small business can become more profitable and a stronger competitor in more challenging world.
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