24 February 2012

Welcome to the “Age of Entrepreneur”

I love Thursday mornings because its when I get my weekly newsletter from a website called Springwise. Now, what on earth could this email contain that could get someone like me so excited? Well it showcases what smart entrepreneurs are doing around the world and it blows my socks off every time I read it.

I believe that we are well and truly living in the Age of the Entrepreneur and it is only just getting started. Many of the older barriers to that stopped people from starting their own business are no longer relevant.

For starters it has never been cheaper to open a business. You don’t need to have a shop, lots of staff, cars, trucks, big advertising campaigns or hundreds of staff. All you need is a good idea and the smarts to know how to outsource the skills and expertise that you need.

Today you don’t even need to leave your job. In the olden days, that is BG (Before Google), we had to make a decision, work for someone or have our own business rarely could you do both.

I have personally met people who generate between five and ten million dollars per year, from a room in their house, with one full time employee. Now, the profit margin with this kind of business is exceptionally high and I know that not every business will fit into this category, in fact the vast majority won’t. But I have also met thousands of people who have started a business to supplement their income and they are making a few hundred dollars a week, and that means a huge amount to them. It is the difference between a private and public school, or a holiday every year, or getting their own home.

What does this mean for the rest of us, those of us who have been in a business for a while?

Well for starters if we thought business was competitive before, hang onto your hats because we are about to learn the true meaning of the word.

Secondly we need to learn from these new entrepreneurs. They are entering the business world without most of the preconceptions that we have. For example they don’t think running a business should be about sacrifice with little return. They think it should be about making as much money as you need and having a blast doing it.

A really big issue facing many older entrepreneurs is their struggle to adapt. These “old dogs” have to learn new tricks and I certainly include myself in this category. I seem to be spending more time presenting to rooms full of people who have been incredibly successful in the past, but now they are really struggling to find their way into the new world, particularly the online environment.

Our history is no longer enough to keep our customers coming back. They will be loyal, to a point, but if the competitor up the road is better at engaging with our customers through smarter communication, more creative offerings and innovative ways of doing business, they will go to them in droves.

Last but not least (and believe me I could write a book about this entire subject), we need to run our businesses with a level of integrity that is beyond question. Consumers want to know that they are dealing with an ethical and honest organisation, regardless of its size. The reality is that big is no longer better and there is a worldwide mistrust of “big” that is gaining momentum. It doesn’t take long to figure out whom to blame for this, just think back to a few front pages over the past two years.

So where to from here?

I honestly don’t think there has ever been a better time to have your own business. The playing field is as level as it will ever be and consumers are as open-minded as they will ever be. My advice is to go for it, give it all you have.

But be warned – the world is changing and how we do business needs to change accordingly. Tomorrow’s successful businesses will be those who have mastered the art of evolution, for them the Age of the Entrepreneur will be an incredible time. For those who don’t evolve, the Age of the Entrepreneur will be much tougher.

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Andrew Griffiths is Australia's #1 small business author with 12 best selling books now sold in over 60 countries. He's a writing and publishing expert, an international speaker and leading business advisor with over 20 years' experience. Andrew presents around the world and is considered an expert in entrepreneurship and an authority on building a profile. He is a thought leader through writing, publishing and speaking and is featured regularly in mainstream global media.

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