Last year we wrote a blog entry about “Entrepreneurship in Davos and the year ahead”. Entrepreneurship was a leading topic in last year’s discussions, especially because many politicians saw it as a way out of the crisis. After one year we can say that entrepreneurship has been a buzz word for many and we’ve seen amazing things happening from Silicon Valley to the “Mediterranean Valley”. LinkedIn has gone public and now Facebook is following. Skype has been acquired by Microsoft and hundreds of events around entrepreneurship are taking place! It has been a great pleasure to see that at the 2012 World Economic Forum in Davos, Global Entrepreneurship had its own section on the website - further proof of the growing importance.
Although as they say, not all that glitters is gold, in his recent blog post in the Harvard Business Review, Daniel Isenberg argues that entrepreneurship (innovative, high-growth and job creation) is not what is really talked about. Too much focus is placed on self-employment and small businesses that are enough to sustain an individual or a family, but don’t create the type of growth and job creation necessary to make a dent in a country’s economy. Below we will explore what has been said at Davos 2012 and throughout the year see if words have turned into action – something entrepreneurs are very good at doing!
Entrepreneurship and the future
There has been a lot of talk by Klaus Schwab at Davos about the future; the future of jobs, the future of youth, the future of the environment and it seems like all the roads lead to Rome entrepreneurship. Sometimes explicitly, other times inexplicitly, entrepreneurs and innovation have been mentioned as the solution to growth, job creation, saving the environment and in general as those capable of making a dream/idea a reality. On a personal note, we want to remind you that the idea is important, but the successful entrepreneur is the one that can gather the right talent around him/herself and can execute!
Is entrepreneurship the 21st Century career?
At Davos an extremely positive attitude could be seen from everyone when it comes to entrepreneurs. It’s almost as if entrepreneurship has become a career. One can now study entrepreneurship at university and take an idea to an incubator, receive courses around pitching to investors, go to events, grow the company and sell it. It has become somewhat of a structured path like building a CV, to go and work for a big firm. In addition we have seen that the rewards of building a successful startup can be huge with all the investments and exits that are available today. Obviously huge rewards are also linked to greater risk – something important to keep in mind.
Barriers to entry & commoditization of entrepreneurship
The rise of information technology, globalization and increased knowledge sharing have been crucial factors in allowing teams and individuals to find the skill sets needed to create cheap prototypes of their main products that ride the wave of platforms like Facebook or the iPhone. As a result we are seeing many small players creating apps, social games and other software or hardware at a fraction of a cost leveraging resources and talent from different countries and with the advantage of not having to move from behind a computer.
This is all very beautiful, but some key questions arise; are we creating sustainable value or seasonal companies with seasonal apps? Is there valuable intellectual property and ideas that change the world or are we simply fueling a consumer, mindless society? And most importantly, are we blurring the lines between a family bakery and a 3 person developer team with an app selling for €0.99 cents and both with a revenue of €300.000/year?
There seem to be more and more young entrepreneurs, some are high-growth, status-quo changers, many are lifestyle entrepreneurs that are happy creating small enterprises that will stay small. What is apparent is that politicians and world leaders don’t distinguish enough from the two. Both are important and essential, but policies need to differ and the future Facebook, Google, cancer curing company cannot be treated the same as a cupcake store. We want to see a greater support towards those entrepreneurs and startups that will change the world and world leaders are not doing enough, as it was apparent in Davos where entrepreneurship was in everyone’s speeches, but on no one’s agenda!