Saturday, January 07, 2006
You're a trend.
Harvard Business School
talking about you
OK. Let's start with the fact that I think the word minipreneur is goofy.
It will be used in this post because that's what trendwatching.com and Harvard Biz School call it, but give me a break. When you're involved in your own enterprise there is nothing mini about it, no matter the size. It's a big deal to you on a million fronts. Minipreneur sounds dismissive to me.
However, trendwatching.com is a very nice site. It focuses on consumer trends and markets. They picked the word, and I'm sticking to it.
The Harvard quote I'll follow with, asks how to make money from this trend.
First, some pieces from the Sept. '05 article at trendwatching.com by Neil Shoebridge.
"The minipreneur tag was developed by the research firm trendwatching.com to describe what it calls 'a vast army of consumers turning entrepreneur, including small and micro businesses, freelancers, side businesses, weekend entrepreneurs, web-driven entrepreneurs, part-timers, free agents, cottage businesses, seniorpreneurs, co-creators, mumpreneurs, solopreneurs, eBay traders, advertising-sponsored bloggers and so on'."
"According to trendwatching.com, the rise of the minipreneur is being fuelled by five factors:
• Multinationals of one: Thanks to the internet, resources that were once available only to multinationals are now available to many people, including individuals. The internet has removed barriers to entry in many markets and industries and given minipreneurs a way to access "top talent" quickly and virtually. [Added by Rick - and access to 'top markets' worldwide]
• Being in control of one's destiny: Rising wealth (largely from higher property prices), an increased willingness to take risks and the popular belief that people should have three or four careers during their working lives is encouraging some people to set up their own businesses.
• Enterprising is chic: After falling into disgrace during the 1990s, the term entrepreneur has been dusted off and given new respectability. "There's an explosion of hip, admired ventures - online and offline - around the world," the researchers at trendwatching.com say. "It is being accelerated by the tech revolution and the truly exceptional entrepreneurs with vision and skills that started it. [They are] a far cry from the old boys' networks of the past."
• Experience rules and so does less risk: Business is more accessible and better understood than it was, say, 30 years ago. Producers and consumers alike are interested in business. Consumers know, to varying degrees, how business works so they are more willing to enter the business world themselves. For refugees from the world of big business, the risks they will take as minipreneurs are "no way comparable to the gut-wrenching stress that comes with managing listed corporations."
• A need for the unusual: Bored with mass-market products and services, consumers are increasingly looking for things that are unusual, quirky, customised, personalised, on the fringe and so on. Large companies often struggle with making such products and services profitably, but minipreneurs are well placed to cash in on that trend."
Cool. I agree. You can do it. There's no magic. Opportunities are lying around all over the place. Sweeping them up into a good enterprise model is your job.
I read a Harvard piece discussing the trendwatcher.com article, and they asked how someone could make money on all this. Here's what they say:
"The opportunities for entrepreneurs are not just in creating an e-business, but rather in providing products and services to those who do — in other words, selling shovels to gold miners."
According to Trendwatching, “Ask yourself how you can help them to make money by facilitating their admin, their production, their advertising, their insurance, their travel, their networking, their selling, their tech needs, their learning, their payments, their suggestions, their hosting, and their new business ideas. Don't ask them to consume; help them to create, to produce.”
Yep. This is where you come in, friend.
You can make a contribution. You can participate in this wonderful world of emerging enterprises.
I recommend setting your sights on helping these other enterprises. There are many opportunities and directions for building nice, sustainable biz models in this arena. There are a zillion niches opening that specialize in solutions for enterprises. From the smallest to largest, all enterprises are continuously looking for help. Usually, the bigger they get, the more aggressively they're looking for smart solutions.
Set yourself up to serve a highly focused market you really love. Get great at your specialty. Great, as in the smartest shovels for the smartest gold miners.
Harvard and trendwatcher.com are right. You can start your organization as a multinational from day one. You can build a life for yourself with more control over your day job and your destiny. People and organizations the world over are looking for newer, better, unusually smart solutions. Good biz models have never been more available. Perhaps most importantly, trend watchers understand that smart, sustainable enterprising is not only respectable, even chic, but the core of what's coming.
No other generation in human history has had this much opportunity.
We are living in a great age of convergence. Never before has there been this remarkable combination of tools, opportunity and need, waiting for your solutions.
Get on with it, friend.
Trendwatching.com home page. Cool free newsletter
Harvard Business School article