How important do you think technological innovation is to the growth and development of businesses?
Technological innovation is essential for the growth of business and the economy. It allows people to connect on a global scale. At THECUBE, we use technology to connect with entrepreneurs from all over the world. The diversity of the knowledge that is shared thanks to technology is leading to the generation of strong and creative ideas.
Technology also allows entrepreneurs to create business at much lower entry points. Opensource technology is freely shared, which means products can be created in weeks rather than years and for the fraction of the cost. For example, publishing a book before would have taken a large marketing budget and a contract from a big publishing house. Today, you can use the likes of social media to launch a book in the fraction of time and expense.
What are the main obstacles preventing growth in SMEs at the moment
There are three things that stop SMEs from growing. The first is the lack of an entrepreneurial mind set: we use old tools and systems to try to create a new economy, this is wrong. Einstein once said “we can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” This means that we need to begin using tools that allow us to become great problem solvers, effective innovators, and better thinkers.
The second issue is the lack of financial literacy. We have met entrepreneurs who don’t know how to define value, creating businesses that do not generate economic potency, or even understand how to define their business vision in financial terms. This needs to change.
Finally, fear plays a huge role in lack of growth. There is fear of success, fear of stepping away from their comfort zone, and fear of losing control of their businesses. Entrepreneurs need to be in the right mind set to ensure their business grows, and fear shouldn’t get in the way of this.
Recent research from borro shows that 47 percent of SME owners have got out a loan to finance their business, while 46 percent of SME owners have seriously considered either selling their business or closing it down completely. How do you think start-ups could overcome the financial challenges they face in today’s economy?
When you consider the costs needed to start up a new business, and then add the costs of renting an office, the additional costs of office furniture and equipment, and top it off with electricity and internet bills, starting up a business can be incredibly daunting! To lessen this burden, start-ups should consider ‘rooming together’. This means they can take advantage not only free office space, but also a shared high-speed internet connection, office equipment and electricity bills. Lightening the load of a start-up can have a huge impact on its future success.
How important do you think it is for start-up businesses to create dynamic communities and working environments that enable the free flow of ideas?
We’ve recently found that the entrepreneurs that spend a lot of time interacting with other people are the ones which innovate better and grow healthier. Business is a social entity and it needs a supportive and diverse community to thrive and grow, both from economic perspective and limbic perspective. With limited help for start-ups available, these are the kinds of opportunities that entrepreneurs should be looking at to help each other and themselves survive in an economic downturn.