Especially as we flirt with the notion of a post-covid future
In October 2020, Forbes reported a 40% surge in new business applications. That’s tremendous news! Entrepreneurship: is it airborne!? Not quite. Considering entrepreneurship creates most new jobs, supporting these folks is paramount for a thriving economy. So what does that entail beyond knowledge and funding? Let’s find out.
Playing the game
Entrepreneurship certainly parallels Survivor’s famous mantra to outwit, outlast, outplay, because taking an idea to IPO requires knowing how to play the game. That means learning how to read between the lines, assess risk, negotiate, navigate business structures and relationships. These skills and instincts can be developed and nurtured in the right environment. With a staggering 75% of startups and new businesses accessing funding via informal channels of social capital, interpersonal relationship skills and self-awareness are paramount to successfully securing capital. It’s crucial for entrepreneurs to learn to comfortably steer these relationships and maintain the ability to self-reflect on areas of improvement or incompatibility.
Communicating their vision
Pop culture likes to show founders furiously working at their kitchen table or in their dorm room, but fails to emphasize the role communication plays in success. An entrepreneur must properly articulate their vision to attract followers, investors and customers. Making yourself understood sounds simple enough, but standing up in a room full of people to explain your idea and persuade them why it matters often takes practice. Remember the Microsoft Zune vs Apple iPod showdown of the 2000s? Zune was the superior piece of technology, but Apple’s marketing won consumers and market share. Having the shiniest widget on the block won’t do much for an entrepreneur if they can’t express why it’s a game changer.
Entrepreneurs are an interesting breed. Driven to solve problems, fill gaps in the market and sense opportunities, entrepreneurs have a unique perspective on business. As mentioned above, communication is essential, but let’s remember it’s a two-way street. Knocking on lots of doors in search of funding takes creativity, persistence and grit, however it also requires a filtering system. Not all feedback is useful, and it’s the founder’s responsibility to weigh and curate what, if anything, gets acted upon. Dr. Dre said it best: “It ain’t that I’m too big to listen to the rumors, it’s just that I’m too damn big to pay attention to ’em.” Again, that’s why self-awareness is a critical tool for entrepreneurs. Seeing information clearly, detecting patterns and knowing how to strategically present and filter information to influence the perception of others are qualities that can make or break an entrepreneur.
Tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need more than just money (although that’s welcome!) and persistence to bootstrap their way to success. They need an ecosystem with a supportive organizational infrastructure and knowledgeable leaders ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Programs like DigitalAMN’s PAI serve to balance creativity with structure and processes to manage and scale business operations. As the stakes become higher, startups need a partner equipped to grow alongside them, regardless of how much funding they may receive.