Imagine you’re sitting in a room with 30 other people. By 2020, six of those people will be entrepreneurs. You may even be one of them. Doing the global math, and according to our research into current population data and trends, we’re talking about one billion entrepreneurs within the next five years. The work for our book The Startup Equation uncovered startling information and opportunities for entrepreneurs of all types all around the world.
Everywhere you look, things are changing when it comes to work, but why such a big change and why right now? It comes down to two common elements from our entrepreneurship classes: opportunity and need. Sometimes there is an incredible need to be an entrepreneur, between static wages and uncertain job markets or people may need an additional source of income. And there are amazing opportunities. Even if we continue to work for someone else, today’s technology makes it possible to innovate within your company or pursue that startup idea or side project you have thought about for years.
Basically, we all need to be entrepreneurs in today’s increasingly connected and smaller global economy.
Where Do We Start?
We know that not everyone feels equally confident about starting a business or even going out to risk their careers with a breakthrough idea at work. So with all these new entrepreneurs waiting in the wings, it seems like the perfect time to figure out how to help them build their dreams. But most are challenged with where to begin or to understand where their knowledge gaps are so they can fill them in or find the right resource to help.
Through our personal experiences and working with hundreds of companies and meeting thousands of entrepreneurs all over the world we have learned the best practices that lead to business success. But not everyone knows how to apply that knowledge. So with my co-author Ja-Naé Duane, we built the Startup Equation, a framework to help both current and would-be entrepreneurs navigate their startup goals.
Let’s start with something we learned in our entrepreneurship classes at IE. Every entrepreneur is different. Every business is different. This supported our hypothesis that entrepreneurs have read many “concept books” and need a tool that connects all the dots while helping them identify and amplify their skills and expertise so they can get around some of the more common startup roadblocks. That is at the heart of why the Startup Equation can help any entrepreneur.
The Three Stages
The core concept is this – we look at a startup in three stages: Building the Foundation, Crafting the Experience, and Growing the Dream. From each stage, there are a number of components that make up this framework or “equation.” It starts with helping people understand who they are as entrepreneurs. From there, we explore the business idea and the possible solution. With that foundation in place, we look at defining a company culture, building a team, creating a customer experience, and exploring the brand.
Using this knowledge, we can then get specific about financing, sales, marketing, scaling, and innovation. By the end of the process, entrepreneurs have a custom equation that represents who they are and the business they want to build. When it comes to building your marketing strategy, don’t forget the often overlooked method of Employee Advocacy.
Within each component or function there are elements to choose from and using the first “Startup Periodic Table” an entrepreneur can draw from it to craft a custom equation for their breakthrough business startup.
Recently, with the IE Brown Executive MBA, I had an incredible experience visiting Cape Town and meeting entrepreneurs in the city but also in the townships. The energy and drive with entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes was transformational and confirming experience that there are entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes that need our help. This is why we launched a mission to help one million entrepreneurs by 2020. This means teaching entrepreneurship and helping one million entrepreneurs create businesses that add to the global economy.
We cannot deny that the world is changing. Entrepreneurship is changing. Who would of guessed the emergence of a huge e-commerce marketplace emerging thirty years ago? Who would imagine that you could control and streamline your entire business directly from your phone with the SMAR7 Apps twenty years ago? To state that entrepreneurship is changing is actually quite the understatement. In fact, it has changed massively and will continue to do so. We need to be prepared to take that leap to build that dream and to help those entrepreneurs waiting in the wings. We all need to be entrepreneurs.
A version of this article appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of Ideas, the IE Alumni Magazine.