What’s next? 2020 in entrepreneurship
Thesis: It is that time of the year where we get our crystal balls out. The year and the decade are done and dusted, meaning most are gazing ahead at what is to come. The truth is - I do not know what will happen. Shocking, I know, but I do not have all the answers for entrepreneurship in 2020.
However, I do have a good idea of where the market will head after looking at the trends of today. Let’s unpack my three predictions for entrepreneurship in this new decade - and why we must take the lessons learned into this new chapter of business.
Never too big to fail
The crashing and burning of WeWork were almost too outlandish to believe. After all, this was the same company that attempted to go to market with the second-biggest Initial Public Offering of 2019. But fail it did, with the public offering drawing criticism over the company’s governance, business model, and ability to turn a profit.
The mounting pressure eventually led to the company withdrawing its public offering and sacking its chief executive officer and founder. The New York Times called it "an implosion unlike any other in the history of startups.” Yikes.
The lesson here is to never believe success is imminent simply because one of the world’s biggest company says so. WeWork seemed too big to fail and yet it did. Their story should serve as a parable of what not to do in the decade to come.
Control the beast
Further to this point - startups going forward will need to wrest control back from the big egos at the top. Founders and leaders tend to have a massive sway in startup business decisions and, if unchecked, give rise to power vacuums. This certainly unfolded in the case of WeWork.
The meteoric success of Adam Neumann’s company developed into a cult of personality surrounding the man himself. The rules of professionalism seemed to go out the door with Neumann as former employees shared stories about the founder running around barefoot, yelling at employees, and demanding cases of tequila.
The company’s supposed invincibility certainly gave rise to behavior like this. He was the head of the biggest real estate company in the world, right? Well, yes, but that is no excuse. Startups need strong managerial oversight for long-term health, and founders like this do not typically equate to good business.
Lastly, social responsibility should not go unchecked when it comes to entrepreneurship going forward. The 2010s ushered in a period of social and environmental responsibility like never before, and this is something which must be under consideration for founders in the future.
Business growth must be considered with social impact. Why? Because customers do care. Young people are more regularly preferring to invest in startups which are upfront and honest about wider operations. Therefore, social entrepreneurship is likely a trend that is here to stay.
In the end, entrepreneurs are always best served to remember the mistakes of those who have gone before them. Big companies do fail, big egos do burn out, and big social oversights do hurt. Keep this in mind as 2020 comes into focus.