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Guest post – Starting a Global Empire from Starbucks

Guest Author: Sithan Kanna

The World is Flat

For the past few years, I have been interested in the future of trade and enterprise. Initially I was inspired by Thomas L. Friedman’s best-selling book, “The World is Flat” where he talks about how in the past 20 years, the global economic playing field is being flattened by the ability of people to connect and collaborate with anyone from anywhere. In his talks, Friedman uses this analogy, where he says:

In globalization 1.0, countries went global. In globalization 2.0, companies went global. In globalization 3.0, individuals have to go global

I read the book sometime in 2007 but this video by Daniel Priestly, made me realize the extent to which the playing field is shifting towards.

Entrepreneurial Revolution

From Priestly’s blog:

In the mid to late 1800′s the Industrial Revolution swept up cottage industries onto the factory floors. It was impossible for small family businesses to compete with the mammoth conglomerates that emerged.
Now, 150 years on the reverse is happening. Small entrepreneurs all over the world are taking market share from big business, one little crumb at a time in what can only be described as an Entrepreneur Revolution.

So can you start a global business empire with a laptop from Starbucks? If you’re excited, that is a good sign, but a small part in you might say, “What is the Catch?”

The Catch

I assume that it would have been quite easy to start a business in ancient Greece. It might have looked like this:

Step 1: Decide which commodity you were going to trade. Example: A Fruit

Step 2: Buy the Commodity from a farmer at a reasonable price.

Step 3: Sell it at a Higher Price.  Cha-ching!!!

In 2011, the story is a little different. For a lot of people it will probably look like this

Step 1: Get an idea for a killer website/iPhone App

Step 2: Set up a webpage, WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter accounts

Step 3: Read 10 guides on online marketing

Step 4: Learn how to use Google AdWords

Step 5: Tweet 500 times a day because some online marketer told you so

… … …

After all this work, this person hasn’t made anything yet! Yes, the main catch is that although all these tools we have can help us achieve extraordinary things, they can also be powerful distractions.

The Solution – Disciplined Entrepreneurship

I believe that getting your first legitimate sale is the key aspect entrepreneurs should focus on. Everything else should be secondary. If you can’t sell your product/service to someone on the street, having a website and a twitter feed is not going to help you at all. Professor Donald Sull of the London Business School defines disciplined Entrepreneurship as follows:

Entrepreneurs can pursue an opportunity much as scientists pursue knowledge–by  following a disciplined process of identifying an anomaly in the market, formulating a plan to fill the gap, testing their plan in the real world, and revising their assumptions in light of new information.

What do you think?

If you’re interested in a specific topic, please leave a comment.

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