Will entrepreneurs save us?

As we navigate unchartered economic, social, political, technological and environmental waters – is a new breed of enterprise thinking what we need for the 21st century?

In the 1980s, the figure of the entrepreneur, the shiny-shoed yuppy, was often a pinup of greed and selfishness, contributing to a culture of excess and economic inequality. I’m alright Jack, and you’d better not get in my way.

However, in the 2020s, you’d be in denial not notice some big changes. Today’s entrepreneurs are increasingly seen as agents of disruption and alternative thinking, keeping monopolies and corporate giants on their toes.

Financial independence and autonomy is obviously still the main motivation. But there is much, much more commitment to embded social and environmental responsibility into the freewheeling energy of being a business founder.

Modern entrepreneurs worth their salt are focusing on solving problems, understanding changing markets and needs, looking at inclusive growth that might depend on recruiting from a wide talent pool and happily redefining what it means to succeed in business.

It is really really hard.

But it is exciting.

At always possible, we’ve supported over 300 founders, micro-businesses and growing enterprises in the last four years. And we’re continually learning about the restless mindset that makes the impossible possible.

And this is more acute now than ever. As Benjamin Talin, the Austrian serial founder, investor and entrepreneur, and CEO of More Than Digital, tells us – making the case that sheer entrepreneurial spirit is the fuel shaping our future.


The role of entrepreneurs in the 2020s

According to Talin, entrepreneurship is essential for economic growth and social progress. He thinks that the surge in entrepreneurial activity following the COVID-19 pandemic is driven by a desire for innovation and economic self-reliance. But that entrepreneurs are not just starting businesses; they are creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. From tech startups leveraging AI to improve efficiency to social enterprises addressing global poverty, the scope of entrepreneurial impact and ambition is on steroids right now.

But the challenges faced by entrepreneurs today are immense. While there is no shortage of ideas and enthusiasm, securing funding has become increasingly difficult. Many startups struggle to get past the initial stages of development due to financial straitjackets and unrealistic costs. This has led to a high rate of business failures, especially as venture capital becomes more cautious.

So how can we remove the barriers?

Listen to our conversation with Benjamin Talin here👇



The dual mission: solving problems and creating value

Businesses have two fundamental responsibilities: solving problems and creating value. These tasks go hand in hand, but they require a nuanced understanding of what “value” means.


    1. Economic value: This is the most obvious form of value creation. Businesses generate profit, create jobs, and stimulate economic activity. Successful businesses can attract investment, drive innovation, and contribute to GDP growth.
    2. Social value: Entrepreneurs can create social value first, ensuring they do no harm in the way their business operates. But also by considering how their skills and resources can improve social deficit issues such as poverty, inequality and environmental damage. Social enterprises, for instance, consciously their profits into their missions, driven by a change goal.
    3. Customer value: Providing products or services that meet the needs (more than consumerist wants) and create extraordinary experiences for customers is crucial. This involves continual innovation and improvement by listening and co-designing.
    4. Employee value: Creating a supportive and motivating work environment adds value for employees. This includes fair wages, opportunities for growth, and a generous and open workplace culture.
    5. Environmental value: In the face of human-made climate crises, businesses are increasingly focusing on sustainability. This means leaning-into, and planning for, green practices, reducing carbon footprints, and taking more responsibility for the system in which we operate.



Challenges facing new entrepreneurs

Starting a business in today’s environment comes with significant challenges. Beyond the difficulty of securing funding, entrepreneurs face a host of other obstacles:

    1. Market saturation: With so many new businesses emerging, standing out in a crowded market is tough. This requires unique value propositions and a human way of communicating why, what, how your offer is worth anyone’s time.
    2. Regulatory hurdles: Navigating the complex web of regulations can be daunting, especially for small businesses with limited resources.
    3. Technological changes: Keeping up with rapid technological change is essential but challenging. Entrepreneurs must spend an increasing amount of time getting adapting to new tools and platforms.
    4. Talent acquisition: Attracting and retaining skilled employees is a major challenge, particularly in competitive industries. And the future relies on nurturing junior talent, as well as upskilling and retraining mature talent – this takes planning, time and money.
    5. Economic Uncertainty: Global economic instability can kill confidence and investment, making it harder for new businesses to thrive. Accessing data is key, and making decisions based on evidence.


Support for entrepreneurs

Despite these challenges, there are funded and subsidised programmes designed to support new entrepreneurs.

always possible has been delivering expert workshops and mentoring for years – working with local government, universities and business networks. Always adapting, innovating and improving, whilst building on tried-and-tested experience and tangible outcomes.

Read about our support for business and entrprise here.

Our free support for new businesses in the Lewes district of East Sussex is running until 2027 – providing essential guidance and resources for early-stage entrepreneurs. More details can be found here.

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