The business dictionary defines Entrepreneurship as, “The capacity and willingness to develop, organize and manage a business venture along with any of its risks in order to make a profit…Entrepreneurial spirit is characterized by innovation and risk-taking, and is an essential part of a nation’s ability to succeed in an ever changing and increasingly competitive global marketplace.” 1
It is important to have that definition on our minds as we begin to address entrepreneurship during the 4th industrial revolution.
We are living in interesting times. Here we are – entering the 4th revolution. As in any revolution, no one person or event triggered it. It is man’s innovative and creative minds that have driven revolution. Humans are constantly looking for better ways to achieve their goals and as they do, the come up with new tools to achieve their goals. In the 1st and 2nd industrial revolutions, the tools were physical. In the 3rd industrial revolution, computerization came into play. But the forth industrial revolution, this one that we are in now, is to most exciting. It will be interesting to see how things pan out.
The 4th industrial revolution will completely change the way we work, live and relate to one another. We will embrace new technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligent and cyber-physical systems. Machines will be connected to each other and will interact with each other. Machines will have the ability to make decisions autonomously. The 4th industrial revolution will impact all disciplines, industries, and economies.
The 4th industrial revolution is sure to take down companies that are currently giants. We have seen it happen before.
Examples of Companies that failed to keep up with changes
The companies below were giants. They failed to future proof their business and ended up with egg on their face.
Blockbuster was a company that used to offer physical video rentals. It was founded in 1985. At it’s best moment, it had 84,000 employees around the world and 9,094 outlets. In 2000, Blockbuster considered buying a small company called Netflix but thought against it because Netflix’s business model served a very small market niche. As of July 2018, Netflix had 130 million subscribers worldwide.
Kodak was once the largest film company. They made two mistakes 1) they failed to watch their environment critically to determine what technologies were becoming available and 2) they failed to keep up with their customers’ changing needs.
But, what’s more critical for entrepreneurs to pay attention to, is the opportunities that will be created by the 4th industrial revolution. The new technology that is becoming more and more prominent in our world open new avenues for making money that did not exist before.
Uber was founded in 2009 and was made possible by technology. AirBnb was founded in 2008 and was made possible by technology. Although Netflix was started earlier, in 1997, it experimented with various business models until in settled on its streaming business model and has now become a giant. The business models for these companies would not have been possible without the latest technology. Amazon has been great at using technology to grow its business into the world’s most valuable company.
Let’s talk about Jeff Bezos for a minute. He knew from the beginning that the internet was going to create opportunities and he dove right in. He started Amazon as a company that sells books on the internet…in his garage. The surface of his desk was a door. In 2018, he was declared the richest man in the world…the world! not just America. What was the secret of his success? He took advantage of the latest technology to explore different business models.
Technology has been democratized
It used to be, a long time ago, that only the richest companies had access to the latest and most powerful technology. That has changed. Now, even someone working from his garage has access to the same technology as any large organization.
The 4th industrial revolution will result in the age of the entrepreneur. Any budding entrepreneur with the right work ethic can grow her business and earn a healthy living from it. Just as Jeff Bezos took advantage of the internet and other technologies to grow his business, any entrepreneur can take advantage of existing and emerging technologies to start and grow their businesses.
Yes, even you.
Just make sure that you offer customers a product / service that helps them accomplish a job to be done better that anyone else.
Welcome to the age of the entrepreneur!