The next few months present smart companies with the chance to drive entrepreneurial change in a recovering domestic market. More significantly, it represents a challenge to entrepreneurial leadership to revitalise their internal business directions.
According to Professor Vipin Gupta of Fordham University and Professor Ian C. MacMillan of Wharton University, companies that act entrepreneurially and adjust to changing circumstances are able to gain first-mover advantage, provide a fulfilling work environment and react rapidly to competitive pressures. Small to medium enterprise will now find it possible to get finance for expansion in the Asia Pacific emerging nations and for business developments that maximise their cultural diversity.
The key to getting some of this new source of funds is the drive to reach out to new partners and distributors that are seeking to build upon Australian, Canadian and German technological competence that generates an experienced marketing capability. Many graduates of Australian tertiary institutions are more flexible, adaptive and willing to get into the emerging cities of the region.
Leaders of entrepreneurial ventures accept that the key to success lies less with product design and patents and more upon building networks of engaged customers. The old SWOT analyses are increasingly seen as a form of paralysis by analysis rather than action to get a foothold in a new setting for an existing business.
Reaction time is the first and fundamental driver of entrepreneurial change. The capacity to respond rapidly to the groundbreaking efforts of larger competitors ensures lower costs of entry and higher rates of returns from rapid market take-up of consumer awareness.
The second change lever comes inside the small business. It is the active engagement of key staff in moving out of their comfort zone and taking the brand and the goodwill of the company into new territories. Unless the current staff team share the passion and enthusiasm of the founding entrepreneurs, it is difficult to avoid the tendency for “more of the same” thinking to drive out new and different market responses.
Our third driver of change is the adoption of a boundary-scanning market intelligence system that acts like wartime radar to protect home base and register incoming competition. It is far too easy for a successful business venture to become complacent and assume that it owns the customers rather than appreciate that informed consumers are no longer loyal customers.
The fourth key is training and immersion of key staff members in the emerging world and the competitive environment of key customers facing cost pressures, technological change and global online alternative sources of supply. Being in a position to adapt, modify and reconstruct products and services for clients is an essential element of new market relevance.
The final driver of entrepreneurial change is the capacity to reduce risk at the same time as transforming a niche opportunity into a significant market segment. This involves absorbing uncertainty, framing the challenge of market entry and development and creating a supportive environment within the enterprise.
Leaders need to be seen to lead rather than wait for the analysts and the safety-first merchants. Unless the team is making mistakes, learning from the market response and assuming the risks that are associated with market development, there are few major potential breakouts into viral growth.
Taken together, a market-oriented leader acts as an effective change agent to facilitate innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship within and around the firm. Successful entrepreneurs get together with a team of like-minded individuals (LMI) to have a go, take up the challenge of change and push beyond the boundaries of the possible.
As nations make the shift to a new paradigm of business to business interaction and more rapid entry into emerging markets, it will be those firms that drive change within and outside their base that will capture the new world of service and technology.
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Dr Colin Benjamin is an entrepreneurship and strategic thinking consultant at Marshall Place Associates, which offers a range of strategic thinking tools that open up a universe of new possibilities for individuals and organisations committed to applying the processes of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Colin is also a member of the global Association of Professional Futurists.