In 2020 the future of business is in flux but as a well-prepared entrepreneur, the changing landscape can be fertile ground for your success. Here are 5 ways to sculpt yourself into a future-ready entrepreneur
#1 Strength in the face of crisis
Entrepreneurship has always demanded resilience from its leaders. It’s a rare enterprise that wasn’t built on the back of perseverance in the face of uncertainty, steadfastness against doubts, or tenacity in the wake of calamity.
But COVID-19 has given a whole new meaning to the word ‘crisis’. It has taught us that there is nothing that the world can’t throw at us and our entrepreneurial dreams.
It takes a special kind of person, with a special level of strength, to deal with the blows that beset the entrepreneur’s path. But, if you can ready yourself mentally, by accepting that you don’t know what is around the corner and create a plan for how to mentally fortify yourself against it, then when the worst happens you will be one of the few who is ready to survive and thrive.
I am reminded of a talk given by Simon Sinek. He spoke about the mindset of elite athletes…
Before their biggest events, their greatest performances for crowds of thousands, if not millions, almost every athlete responds to the question “Are you nervous?” in the same way.
They said, “No. I’m excited!”
Mindset is everything.
#2 Forever upskilling.
We live in a world where companies can go from a valuation of $0 to $1bn in under five years. Think of Instagram and Airbnb as just two examples of many. But what is it that drives this latest generation of growth?
Change. Change is what drives it.
Instagram saw the potential of modern smartphones to introduce a new-wave of photo-based social media, and Airbnb leveraged consumers’ burgeoning affection and trust in web-based shopping to create a new class of hotels seemingly out of thin air.
So, isn’t this a point about technology?
It goes further than that. In these cases, technology was the vehicle, and in fact, we will look at technology more in a minute, but what actually created the value was simply the ability of these companies’ leaders to learn about how the world was moving, and what these new resources could do for them.
The well-seasoned and well-financed veterans of the hotel trade had the rug pulled out from under them by Airbnb because they didn’t learn as fast as two graduates in their dorm rooms.
If we, as entrepreneurs, want to compete today, tomorrow, and next year we have to constantly learn. And, more specifically, learn about the areas we haven’t even heard of yet. Because otherwise, just when we think we are secure, these are the areas that two recent graduates will utilise to send us back to school.
“Diversity is a competitive advantage” – Forbes.com
If we commit ourselves to learning, we have to commit ourselves to diversity. Diversity of backgrounds, skills, age, gender, and culture expose us to everything that we could never hope to know by ourselves.
So, whether you are a solo entrepreneur, a partner, or a player in multiple teams, ensure you avoid the dreaded ‘echo chamber’ and instead draw eclectic groups of people to your side.
Even for the solo entrepreneur, there are many ways to expose yourself to the uncomfortable and challenging productivity-machine of diverse interactions. The people you hire, the mentor you choose, the friends you keep. Make sure they are as colourful and as diverse as the customers you want to reach.
#4 Choose your partners well
Many of the reasons why diversity is important apply directly to choosing your partners, whether they be shareholders or collaborators. The ability of a partner to cover your blind spots and level-up your decision-making abilities is crucial.
However, while it is easy to make the assumption that because a person or organisation has been successful with other people then they will be successful with you, it is often not a good assumption to make.
The real question to ask is whether or not they reflect what you want, and does what they bring to the table truly bolster your chances of success in the future?
Not only will a partner who is out of line with your goals fail to add the value you hoped for, but they will also actively detract value by pushing in a non-complimentary direction.
Ensure your partners don’t just give you what you want today. Ensure they are going where you are headed.
#5 Embrace technology
Until recently almost every new business needed at least a few staff. Even if just for general office tasks. Now some thriving start-ups with two successful years under their belts can be realistically run by one person, thanks to online outsourcing.
Technology has already revolutionised business, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Embrace every opportunity to utilise tech to your advantage and you might just be amazed at how far your streamlined ship can sail.
Even if taking on more employees is an inevitability then small and highly specialised teams will be the future. Your core team can be supplemented by outside contractors halfway across the world and, increasingly, A.I. Utilising modern tech and communications to cut costs, decrease waste, and expand your talent pool are going to be key factors in the success of the businesses of the future. And you can bet that even if you don’t do it, your competitors will!