"Where do I go from here?"
We live in changing times. Rapidly changing times. Times always change and move forward but what has been remarkable recently has been the fact that the speed of change continues to increase year on year. It is no surprise, therefore, that many founders, both first time entrepreneurs and serial entrepreneurs, often ask themselves, and me, ‘where do I go from here?’
Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, said “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction.” And as time goes by, and the speed of change increases, this becomes ever more true. We see it all around us and in every field of both our personal and professional lives.
Change occurs for many reasons and those reasons vary over time, but in more recent years these reasons are often focused around environmental concerns or are possible because of the advancement of technology. But as with every change and every advancement, gaps appear in the market and great opportunities arise. This may be with the creation of completely new markets, or enhancements or improvements to existing ones.
The spring and early summer of 2020 has, of course, introduced the global coronavirus pandemic leading to periods of lockdown across the majority of the world, and this, in turn, has forced many companies to adapt and pivot very rapidly. This period has led many more founders than normal to question what are the next steps and, if everything is changing, what they must do in order to stay ahead of the curve?
Technology has become the great definer. Whether this is Fintech, Edtech, Healthtech or any other technology, and whether this is used to improve the environment or any other aspect of our lives, the ever more rapid advances in technology have created huge opportunities. And, as ever, it is the startups and early stage businesses that are normally not only the quickest to spot the opportunities but also the ones that are most able to act on them and to respond in the shortest possible time.
It is of course impossible to predict the future, but it is most certainly possible to define trends and to identify needs and wants that are not being met by goods or services that are presently available. Having identified such gaps, it is the first steps towards formulating the answer for where to go next. Sometimes it can seem that some things change for no apparent reason, but the driver for change is always to improve something in some way – even if, on occasion, the end result is exactly the opposite.
So as the human race continues to strive to improve and enrichen the lives of the people, whilst increasingly also striving to lessen the impact on the planet and the depletion of its resources, then everything will continue to change and, to some extent, at an ever increasing pace. Where you as a founder take your startup and scale it up will of course largely be your choice, but one thing is certain, if you fail to predict where to go from here and you do not do it in good time, then ultimately your business will not grow and prosper like it otherwise could.
It has now been exactly six months since I have been writing this weekly series ‘Overheard In A Startup…’ and that has been during some of the most challenging times seen for businesses for many decades. So, like all good businesses, we have asked ourselves the question of ‘where do I go from here?’ and have decided to adapt and pivot.
Watch out next week for our revised, refreshed, and re-launched series of articles…