Becoming an entrepreneur is easier and more advantageous than at any other time in human history. That's because we are living in the Digital Age, or what the World Economic Forum defines as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I like to call it the Age of the Entrepreneur.
New opportunities are abundant because of the shift in technologies, business models, customer preferences, and the speed of change. If you can identify and solve just one customer pain-point, you can have a robust business. Gone are the days of needing to do 20 things well. And shorter cycles mean you can get in and out relatively quickly and see a financial return.
In my new book, Winning in the Digital Age, I lay out my blueprint for developing a winning strategy -- the "Seven Building Blocks for Successful Digital Transformation." Here are a few key takeaways from this blueprint:
Don't Build It Yourself
The modern digital stack now is approachable and affordable for any size organization, due to cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) platforms. This means that the benchmark for digital experiences is being set by digital leaders. Customers want online search to be as intuitive as Google, with product recommendations as personalized as Netflix, and a checkout experience as effortless as Amazon. To succeed in the digital age, consumers should not build their own technology but purchase ready-made solutions.
Borders don't exist in the digital realm. Suppliers, talent, and customers are accessible 24/7. Research by MIT Sloan on the performance of 1,200 companies in six of the most asset-heavy sectors -- telecom, utilities, energy, materials, automotive, and industrials --reveals a worrying trend. These traditional enterprises are facing "industry compression," resulting in a prolonged decline of operating profits and revenues. The global delivery model is essential for reducing costs while simultaneously increasing the speed of innovation.
Move Quickly and Be Flexible
In the Digital Age, speed is king. Organizations must have a different approach to risk, favoring simplicity over perfection.
For some large, world-class companies, culture has been the bedrock of enduring success, bringing consistency and common purpose to a global footprint. But audacity and intelligent risk taking has a company like e-commerce platform Flipkart, for example, to not only hold its own against Amazon, but also to a $16 billion acquisition by Walmart in 2018.
My research found that Flipkart was able to achieve this success because its leaders were able to manage many contradictory sets of expectations and objectives, like growth versus profitability, customers versus employees, quality versus speed, and data versus intuition.
People Come First
According to Red Point Global, 63 percent of customers expect personalization, but only 15 percent of enterprises deliver on that expectation, in part because only 1 percent of data collected is analyzed and used. For example, when has a bank offered personalization to rival an Amazon shopping experience? To succeed in the Digital Age, entrepreneurs need to adopt a customer-centric approach.
To do that, it's essential to hire teams that are strong on skills like problem solving, empathy, and the ability to learn.
Research has shown that trust and emotion impact people more than knowledge and logic. Building and nurturing trust-based relationships are the most important assets in life, and your best investment. The entrepreneurial spirit requires constant learning. Those who do not learn will not succeed.
In a constantly-changing epoch, everyone needs an entrepreneurial mindset and approach, regardless of their position or the size of their organization, to achieve personal and professional success.