For the last four years, I learned to cringe at the word unprecedented. That adjective was usually associated with a person, who shall remain nameless, enjoyed breaking norms. The meaning according to Google is, never done or known before. It was crushing to keep hearing that adjective describing decisions and actions I believed were irresponsible.
Recently, I have wondered if that word, unprecedented, could be turned around to describe emerging entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs who are coming up with not necessarily new ideas, but ideas for companies and products. These are business ideas diverse people have been holding onto for years for various reasons, but now feel this is the right time where they might actually get support and resources to implement them. There could be an unprecedented level of diverse entrepreneurship in the coming years.
Why not just call this potential trend innovation? Because the implementation of these products and services may be more about how the implementation is done to achieve not only financial outcomes and results.
How Unprecedented Thinking and Action Can Generate Unprecedented Products and Services for the Better!
The entrepreneurs I am talking with are looking at the business opportunities they are developing on multiple levels. Of course, these entrepreneurs know they must look that the potential financial opportunities for their ideas. Every conversation to date includes a desire for broader social impact by sharing ownership, better conditions and benefits for employees, and a desire to impact social conditions more broadly. Developing ideas from broader mindsets should lead to unprecedented products, customer experiences and tone in how business is done.
These entrepreneurs are also more open to examining risks. The demands of the Covid-19 pandemic have pushed everyone to clarify their risk tolerance levels for public health safety, selection of purchasing behaviors, and social life. These entrepreneurs acknowledge that risks must be surfaced and addresses. In the past, entrepreneurs might dismiss the mention of the word risk. They associated risk with failure of a startup that might just mean looking for a job, but not a threat to their health or long-term future.
The most interesting new behaviour when I talk with emerging growth entrepreneurs is their interest in understanding the survival line of their product or business. I have used this phrase in my advising services with all clients. The survival line is the absolute minimum criteria for sustain a product/business line or company. When I used this term in past programs, participants would say the words made them feel uncomfortable. My come back is that every owner must know
- The customer behaviour their business depends on
- The demand and actual purchasing indicators that customer will tolerate
- All the other key indicators of business health in their specific industry
If businesses did not know their survival line indicators in February of 2020, they must know them now to stay in business beyond December 31, 2020.
This concept of knowing your product and company survival line is so important to me. In my early career in financial services as a new manager, I was involved in a large bankruptcy and operations clean ups in a rapidly growing financial product sector. My management jobs were to tackle risks and errors daily. Doing this work taught me way more about business than I every learned in business school. Business school was about seeking foundational knowledge to avoid careless and erroneous business activities and learn more about how to build great products and companies.
I am pleased to see this greater desire to understand survival and risk in business and life. The openness to seek out and address problems and risks is essential to aiming for more than just recovery from these challenging times. The balance between opportunity, risks and knowing the indicators to work toward keeps you and your company above your survival line as conditions change.
With more business owners with broader mindset skilled in this comprehensive thinking, I look forward to seeing more unprecedented products and companies soon!