As the world meanders its way out of one of the worst recessions in modern times, now with a chance to draw breath and look to the future, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on the rise of the entrepreneur and celebrate the part this plucky pioneer is playing in building today’s brave new business world.
A global revolution
In case you’ve been hiding in a hole, there’s a global revolution going on and it’s called “entrepreneurship”! When you envisage an entrepreneur, you may think of the likes of Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg, but you don’t have to launch the next Virgin or Facebook to be a successful entrepreneur. We’re talking about running your own business, no matter how small, setting your own goals and having the flexibility to live your life on your terms. In essence, being the CEO of your own life! Whether you have a light-bulb moment and create an indispensable invention, buy into a franchise and follow a tried-and-tested formula, or build a direct selling business with low set-up costs but great potential, the possibilities are plentiful.
Explosion of entrepreneurism
With job security pretty much a thing of the past, necessity has become very much the mother of invention in the shape of entrepreneurism, and the rise of the entrepreneur is now a defining trend of the 21st century so far. Put “entrepreneur” into the search box online and you get around 208 million hits – the preoccupation with this phenomenon has even spawned such TV shows as Shark Tank, Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice. In the UK, the explosion of entrepreneurism is helping to boost the economy, with a record number of 608,110 new businesses reported to have started up last year – a fact worth celebrating at the recent Great British Entrepreneur Awards. Entrepreneurial momentum is also reportedly building in the US, with around 550,000 new businesses launched each month in 2015, up from 466,000 in 2013. Although, by definition, few attain the almost mythical “unicorn” status – a startup valued at over $1 billion – many gradually achieve great success.
The emergence of the mompreneur
This encouraging entrepreneurial growth seems to be coming from all sectors of society – unrestricted by age or gender. Although it is still generally acknowledged that there is a gender gap in entrepreneurial activity, with men predominating, this is a gap which is closing. In fact, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Special Report: Women’s Entrepreneurship 2015 reveals that since 2012 this gender gap has reduced by 6% globally. Indeed, necessity was never more the “mother” of invention, where women are concerned, with many moms choosing to run their own businesses from home, with the flexibility this allows for raising a family, inspiring the invention of a whole new term – “mompreneur”. Such enterprise undoubtedly deserves encouragement and, indeed, the recently held third annual Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, which was set up to “celebrate, empower, and support women in business”, did just that.
Fueled by finance and technology
The rise of the 21st-century entrepreneur has undoubtedly been fueled by rapid advancements in technology. This in turn has expanded the finance options open to entrepreneurs looking to launch businesses and carry out transactions on a day-to-day basis. Notably, the development of online crowdfunding has enabled a whole new generation of innovative entrepreneurs to launch successful businesses which may otherwise have struggled to find funding. This game-changing financing option is revolutionizing the business start-up landscape, and now provides a viable alternative to traditional funding routes, with an estimated $34 billion raised in 2015. Another interesting innovation to watch, already causing waves in the entrepreneurial world, is digital currency, or cryptocurrency as it is also known. This is a decentralized currency which is anonymous, secure and can be used to make transactions and payments via computer. Put these two innovations, crowdfunding and cryptocurrency, together and you have a visionary combination, which is just what LEOcrowd has done. This crowdfunding platform facilitates payment via digital currencies, such as Bitcoin and LEOcoin, referred to as “The entrepreneur’s cryptocurrency of choice”. In essence, this opens up a whole new world of international funding options to start-up entrepreneurs. LEOcrowd is the brainchild of Learning Enterprises Organisation Ltd (LEO), a global entrepreneurship training company with an ecosystem of products designed to help people start their own businesses, including a new digital currency course.
With innovation all around, an essential entrepreneurial skill is the ability to forecast the next big thing – whether researching an idea for a viable start-up, or ensuring you stay ahead of the competition. Where once computers and the Internet were big news, giving birth to an explosion of online businesses, the surging use of smartphones gave rise to the advent of apps. Indeed, the launch of the App Store in 2008 ushered in the age of the app – an invention seemingly created for the modern entrepreneur, running a business on the go. So, what next? Although our love affair with the smartphone is far from over, some experts predict that smartphones may soon give way to other objects with similar, or advanced, functions. So, who knows? In future you may even be running your business from your voice-activated jewelry!
So it seems that the revolution of the entrepreneur has only just begun, and with the growing number of tools at their disposal, plus increasing encouragement, a whole new wave of plucky entrepreneurs could just be set to take the plunge.