Category Archives: Current in Entrepreneurship

The Entrepreneurial Mindset Book Nails It!

Well, it’s finally here!   A book, well written, that clarifies what we have been trying to say for years…THE FUTURE OF WORK IS ENTREPRENEURSHIP.  I heard Kyle describes his book on a webinar, but perfunctorily ordered it.  Today, it arrived, and I was blown away!  He puts into words better than I have done the fact only widespread sharing of entrepreneurial skills can save our economy and what is happening rapidly to our workforce.  People are being “let go”, “fired”, or “displaced” from their long-time jobs.  Why?  A perfect storm has come together…the Gig Economy of independent contractors, artificial intelligence (A. I.) automating anything repeatable, and now the death knell, COVID-19 economic necessity to eliminate overhead in a time of reduced business.

No one who reads the first 100 pages can possibly disagree.  Work as we know it is dead.  In order to make a secure income for your family or continue to be a successfully working member of the economy one must find a passion, an interest, or build on a prior experience and become…SELF-EMPLOYED.  Entrepreneurship can now be taught and learned thanks to Silicon Valley and one of its Princes, Steve Blank.  His Customer Development Process, put together by reflecting back on eight tech startups, gave the world “lean startup”.  Thank goodness he did.  “Lean” has made entrepreneurship teachable and learnable to ordinary workers.  Anyone with DESIRE, emphasis on desire, can learn it.  “Lean” validates an idea or a concept with the ultimate buyer or end-user who also helps the entrepreneur design the product.  Together they create a “product-market fit” which cements a thing of value that the world needs and wants.

The world economy faces a massive disruption of labor.  Jobs are going to machines at an alarming rate, and ramifications will alter everything we know  about work.  Three forces have been at work since 1990, but will soon go to warp speed.  First is the Gig Economy, which is an environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers. A study by Intuit says there are 53 million freelancers in America today. By 2021 50% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers.  This on-demand work, a gig economy is moving more and more into independent professionals that use mobile and technology to create ecosystems they enjoy.

Second is the automation of anything that is repetitive and can be replaced by robotics; most automobiles are now made by robots.  The combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data makes it possible for machines to learn from experience and adjust to new inputs and perform human-like tasks.  Deep learning is a type of machine learning that trains a computer to perform human-like tasks, such as recognizing speech, identifying images or making predictions.  Such technology is now replacing white as well as blue collar workers.

Because Big Data has grown exponentially, AI and deep learning now can  work together.  In 2013 SINTEF estimated that 90% of all information in the world had been created in the prior two years.  Lots of data is exactly what machines need in order to learn to learn.  Google’s DeepMind AI has learned how to read and comprehend what it reads through thousands of news articles.

McKinsey research says that up to one-third of U. S. workers and 800 million globally could be displaced by 2030.  They recommend businesses and policymakers act now to keep people employed.  The single most impactful solution is to train everyone in entrepreneurship, whose innovative and creative skills can allow workers to transit to self-employment (or a freelancer in the Gig Economy).

Finally, there is an unexpected pandemic from COVID-19 beginning March 2020, which is causing widespread unemployment.  A “New Normal” will be slow to form and have eliminated millions of permanent jobs.  Nothing offers a more promising solution to those made jobless than their ability to start a small business using lean startup entrepreneurship. By embracing a passion, an interest, or an acquired trade, people can learn entrepreneurship by validating a viable concept using customer development.  “Lean” enables anyone with desire to design a successful business model that can be scaled and repeated.

As of the last week of June, 1.48 million workers filed first time claims for  unemployment. Initial jobless requests are the nation’s most reliable gauge of layoffs, and Oxford Economics said the latest numbers “paint a picture of a job market in turmoil.” More than 40 million people have filed for unemployment in the past three months, and the U. S is predicted to experience a coronavirus-induced recession through 2021.

Then, working in an office could become a status symbol, most meetings replaced by email, business travel as we know it could be gone, office buildings “elaborate conference centers”, mandatory medical screening a norm, middle management positions cut forever,  and 9-to-5 office hours a thing of the past.

The need for large scale training of “lean” entrepreneurship is now mandatory.  ERI, Entrepreneurship Resources, is an educational organization  dedicated to lean launch training and spreading entrepreneurship.  See and for more.

Trust our blog…get this book.  100% of all proceeds go back to NFTE, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, The Entrepreneurial Mindset draws upon learning methods and case studies from the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a nonprofit based in New York City that has reached over 1 million students. All proceeds from the book go directly to NFTE to support its mission.






Lessons from One Iconic Everyday Entrepreneur

Lessons from One Iconic American Everyday Entrepreneur Who Overcame Challenges in Life and Business and How Hillsborough Community College is Helping Lift Today’s Everyday Entrepreneurs So They Become Iconic Stories in the Future

“Nothing is an obstacle unless you say it is.” – Wally Amos

Wally was born in Tallahassee, Florida on Wednesday July 1, 1936. For the first twelve years of his life, Wally grew up in the segregated south, and was the only child in an impoverished family in which his parents did not get along very well. When his parents finally divorced, Wally was sent to Manhattan to live with his aunt who resided in Harlem at that time. Life was hard growing up in a broken home as a young man. While he was separated from his parents, and his Aunt Della lacked financial means, she did provide Wally with a home, and stability. One of the few joyous childhood experiences Wally recalled having, was making homemade cookies with his aunt from time to time. As he tracked through high school, Wally eventually dropped out of school to join the Air Force for four years (1954-1957 – Hickam Air Force Base). During that time, he earned his GED, and was honorably discharged from the military in 1957. Wally returned to New York City, went back to college to become a secretary. He worked in the stockroom at Saks Fifth Avenue department store, and eventually he landed a job in 1962 in the mailroom at the William Morris Agency, the nation’s longest running talent agency. Wally was hard working, diligent, driven, and persistent. After some time, he worked his way up to become the first black talent scout in the United States. Determined to land a big act, and prove his worth, he discovered a singing duo from Queens, NY, and signed Simon and Garfunkel to represent them through the William Morris Agency. From there, he went on to also work with Marvin Gaye, and countless other artists.
You might think at this point, that is an interesting story of someone who came from nothing, overcame significant life challenges, served the nation, and attained success. But the story was just beginning. Over time, Wally began to think that he no longer needed to work for an agency and elected to start his own talent agency. In 1967, he left William Morris, moved out to California, took his clients with him, which by then had grown to Simon & Garfunkel, The Supremes, Marvin Gay, Sam Cooke and more. Reflecting on his childhood with Aunt Della, he recalled how her home baked cookies created a sense of family within their home, so he decided to replicate that environment for his clients by baking chocolate chip cookies (based on his Aunt Della’s recipe) and bringing them into the office. The clients loved the cookies and kept encouraging Wally to open a store. He resisted for many reasons, one of which being he lacked experience in operating a retail business and did not have sufficient financial resources.

Wally was clearly good at finding and nurturing talent, but without the formal structure of a business entity like William Morris, he quickly began to realize he was not properly equipped with the requisite knowledge to run and execute a talent agency, and he rapidly began to fall into debt. Finally, in 1975 with a $25,000 investment from Marvin Gaye and Helen Reddy (‘I am woman” fame), Wally Amos took action and opened his first “Famous Amos” store in Hollywood. The store brand grew rapidly, and within seven years (1982), was generating $12 million in revenue (approximately $35 million in today’s dollars). The stores proved so popular that the “Famous Amos” brand ultimately expanded to develop a new distribution channel, selling cookies in supermarkets, a model that would later be replicated by other food specialty chains such as Baskin-Robbins, T.G.I. Fridays, and Starbucks.

By 1984 sales had begun to slow and Amos was forced to sell portions of the business. Amos sold a 51% interest to Bass Brothers Enterprises to rescue the business from financial disaster. That year the company had lost $300,000 as revenues slipped to $10 million, and cash flow challenges emerged. Investors got involved to try to stop the downward spiral, but according to Amos, “they took more of an equity stake each time and did not stay long enough to get the company back on track.” By 1988, Wally was unable to get the business back on track, and without a controlling interest was forced to sell the business for $3 million. Since that time, the entrepreneurial spirit has persisted with Wally Amos who has launched several businesses, including a muffin brand — Uncle Wally’s Muffin Co.–, has written 10 books, and dedicated his life to various adult literacy projects.

“The affable Amos recalled in Parade that he had numerous obstacles to overcome on his long road to success. Growing up poor in the segregated South, he faced adult responsibilities at an early age. Still, Amos said, he had confidence that he could make his way in the world. “You have to focus on what you can do,” he said. “There are people who convince themselves that they can’t do anything with their lives because of what’s happened to them—and they’re right. They cannot. But the reason is that they’ve told themselves they can’t” ( law/business-leaders/wally-amos.)

Amos is a classic example of a person that developed an entrepreneurial mindset and refused to allow actual, and self-imposed limits to hamper his ability to succeed. His entrepreneurial journey is filled with serendipity, action, and learning by doing. While cookies, and his iconic “Famous Amos” Panama hat and shirt (now in the Smithsonian Museum) made Wally famous, Amos has often said that fame is overrated, and has developed his own take on what is most important to him: “I want to be known as a guy who cared about people. A guy who loved people and loved life.”

Creating the Wally Amos’s of Tomorrow

One shining example of nurturing local everyday entrepreneurs like Wally Amos, is taking place at Hillsborough Community College’s Institute for Interdisciplinary Innovation – The InLab@HCC. Two years ago the InLab@HCC was fortunate to be selected as one of four community colleges in the United States to receive a $250,000 matching grant to standup a small
business seed fund for everyday entrepreneurs. Started as an experiment in 2018, the Everyday Entrepreneur Venture Fund (EEVF) has grown significantly since its inception, both in terms of community impact as well as overall size (now over $500,000 and growing). To date, the InLab’ s EEVF has funded 15 businesses, and recently the InLab@HCC has been working with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) to develop phase II for the EEVF on a national scale. The fund is a social impact fund that offers students that complete one of the InLab entrepreneurship academic programs to apply for up to $100,000 in funding. If awarded, the funding is distributed in the form of either a grant, interest free loan, or below market interest bearing loan.

The diversity of the HCC InLab student led businesses is profound on many fronts. First, these businesses have not skipped a beat in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Many have pivoted swiftly to develop new revenue streams. Some have made tough financial decisions to ensure they survive these challenging times. Others have experienced rapid growth because of the nature of their business i.e. home renovations. Perhaps most important, and meaningful to the InLab family of faculty, staff, and community volunteers that serve as mentors and subject matter expert workshop facilitators is the fact that these HCC student businesses are diverse across many spectrums. The businesses are a wonderful cross section of business types, ranging from retail/e-commerce, manufacturing, nonprofit, and service related. The InLab@HCC EEVF student founders themselves are extraordinarily diverse in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, socio- economic status, age, and several are Veteran owned businesses. The EEVF is a shining example of a local source for supply chain diversity. In the face of COVID-19, when you speak with the EEVF founders, it is inescapable to feel a strong sense of inspiration and positivity about the future. In a time of great uncertainty, the InLab EEVF stories illuminate the importance of adaptability, persistence, and a willingness to act.

References – still-baking/#.XKkGb_ZFx3c     –

By Andy Gold, Ph.D.  @profandygoldlinked in  –

COVID-19 Is Transforming Commercial Use of Digital Technology

Newswise — The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of people to work from home, making them ever more dependent on the digital technology that has long enabled them to handle both personal and professional tasks from their smartphones, laptops, and personal computers.

Joël Le Bon has been paying particularly close attention to these developments. The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School associate professor specializes in the commercial applications of digital technology, including its use in sales, marketing, and management. COVID-19’s impact on the digital sphere, he notes, has been extraordinary.

“I used to say that with modern digital sales capabilities, sales changed more in the past five years than in the past 50 years. I should say now that sales changed more in the past five months than in the past five years,” he says.

In the following Q&A, Le Bon offers his views on some of the ways the pandemic has affected the world of digital business.

QUESTION: At the JHU Carey Business School, you co-founded the Science of Digital Business Development Initiative, which states the goal of showing business organizations how to thrive in a digital economy. How has this goal, or the means of achieving it, been affected by the pandemic?

JOËL LE BON: The initiative’s mission is to advance the research, education, and practice aspects of digital business development, offer a leading network to address the profound impact of digital transformation, and open new paths of opportunity for the future of work in the digital economy. The pandemic has made our mission and goal even more relevant by changing organizations’ perspectives on work, leadership, and business interactions with their customers with a radical shift to digital capabilities.

From an organizational standpoint, working and leading from home requires the leverage of digital capabilities, thus raising significant new challenges such as redefining interpersonal engagement, communication, developing people, and sustaining and measuring individuals’ and teams’ productivity. Interestingly, from a go-to-market standpoint, similar challenges apply in terms of redefining interpersonal engagement, communication, developing relationships with clients, and sustaining and measuring value-creating growth for customers.

Although several technologies already exist to support organizations’ digital shift regarding work, leadership, and business interactions, the offering is quite complex and will grow substantially. For example, for the marketing and sales functions, digital capabilities in areas such as virtual offices, video conferencing, messaging and chat, project management, collaborative design, and sales and customer engagements and analytics can truly facilitate collaborative endeavors to engage and serve the customers. Yet, this implies that organizations profoundly rethink their culture, structure, process, and competency models for better digital engagements and with diverse stakeholders.

What types of business and industries do you think will benefit most in the wake of this crisis? And which ones will suffer most?

When it comes to how value is created, it is important to recognize that value is based on content or what is offered, context or how it is offered, and cadence or when it is offered. However, the extent to which that value is mainly provided through a physical experience or a digital experience helps recognize which industries can suffer or benefit the most from this crisis.

For example, in industries such as airlines and transportation, leisure, hospitality, tourism, entertainment, sports, retail, logistics or higher education, value is mainly created through a physical experience, and thus cannot be easily transformed and offered as digitized content and distributed through the Internet. However, other industries where value can be created through digital experiences easily transformed and offered, as digitized content distributed through the Internet, will benefit from the crisis. Examples are media, communication, telecommunications, e-commerce, and information technology, to name a few.

Do you expect a significant long-term (perhaps even permanent) increase in the number of people working remotely, away from the traditional office setting? If so, what would be the pros and cons of such arrangements?

Yes, yet not with the same magnitude in all industries, and for all functions. The technologies to support remote and virtual work already exist. However, the pandemic has intensified the need for a digital shift from a mindset perspective for organizations and individuals, who are thus encouraged to approach work, interpersonal engagement, and communication differently.

The Global Workplace Analytics consulting firm has shown that a typical employer can save an average of $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year, in terms of increased productivity, lower real estate costs, reduced absenteeism, and turnover. Further, some positive outcomes at the individual level pertain to more independence and autonomy, work flexibility, or time management.

However, some discrepancies exist between employees’ and employers’ perceived main struggles. From an employee standpoint, the most significant concerns relate to unplugging after work, loneliness, and collaborating and communication. From a manager standpoint, the concerns relate to reduced employee productivity, reduced employee focus, and reduced team cohesiveness. Interestingly, if employees struggle to unplug after work, managers should be less concerned about productivity, and more about distress and communication, and their employees’ mental health.

How do you think the COVID-19 disruption will affect the education field, especially in terms of how the “product” and services will be delivered?

Industries that can suffer the most from the crisis, such as higher education, can also benefit the most of the transformative changes the crisis initiated, should they build their business models and value proposition on the radical shift that digital capabilities offer.

Knowledge can be easily produced, transformed, and distributed through digital capabilities. Yet the question of the credibility and reliability of the source of knowledge is of paramount importance; but at what price for the colleges, and cost for the students? The problem with digital-based knowledge as a raw material to be transformed and distributed is that it can be commoditized because of being readily accessible, thus raising the question of price and cost of its accessibility. For this reason, such value should not only be protected at the content level with constant research to advance knowledge, but mainly at the context and cadence levels through the transformation and distribution of advanced knowledge. In fact, this is where the business models and value proposition of higher education should shift, and shift fast.

Before COVID-19, the professor was the main channel enabler for transforming and distributing knowledge content in the context of the classroom, and at the course cadence. Tomorrow, technology-enabled professors will make the difference for the students, beyond commoditized readily accessible content. Consequently, the perceived value of digital college-based knowledge and degrees will shift to well-designed and well-distributed content through virtual, remote experience, and innovative instructions. As students may question the perceived value of college-based knowledge and degrees if they cannot enjoy the physical experience on being on a campus and learn in the classroom with their peers, colleges will need to radically change their very approach to digitally transformed and distributed instructions. In fact, this may also facilitate the transfer of knowledge and education at scale to more students, from a volume perspective. In higher education, there cannot be a new normal if we only wish to come back to normalcy.

As a marketing professor, what’s your view of how advertisers have responded to the pandemic? For example, TV ads that express empathy during a 30-second product pitch – is that effective marketing, or might it run the risk of seeming insincere and calculating?

Effective marketing makes customers understand the value they receive from a product or service. Unauthentic, insincere, and calculating marketing messages do not go a long way, as the most important thing for a company is not the first purchase, but repeated purchases. If such messages do not intrinsically belong to the very values of the brand, customers will not be fooled.

How might the pandemic affect the ways in which sales are conducted?

“Inside sales” – remote and virtual selling where sales professionals use digital information and communication technologies and social selling platforms (e.g., LinkedIn) to connect with, and engage, customers – is the fastest-growing title in the sales industry. It expands at a much higher rate than outside sales, and is regarded as the future of sales. Contrary to outside sales that are performed face-to-face in the field, inside sales also reflects modern buyers’ expectations in their will to use the Internet and social media platforms rather than salespeople as effective sources of information and communication.

COVID-19 made organizations who did not have an inside sales force go to inside sales overnight. The pandemic thus accelerated the digital transformation of sales organizations, and such transformation will remain, because inside sales is an effective go-to-market and go-to-customers strategy. There are four main reasons for this, namely cost, productivity, training, and motivation.

From a cost standpoint, an inside salesperson costs one-third the cost of an outside salesperson. From a productivity standpoint, 30 inside salespeople are likely to sell more than 10 outside salespeople, at the same cost to the company. From a training standpoint, inside sales structures are centralized, which allows inside salespeople to be trained easily and quickly on new product announcements, acquisitions, or internal documents such as compensation plans. And from a motivation standpoint, since inside sales structures leverage powerful sales technologies for interpersonal and customer engagement, communication, and the managing and sustaining of individuals’ and teams’ productivity, this facilitates the leading of inside sales organizations.

Sales is a struggle for everyone, but it is less so for those who understand it, and know how to leverage digital sales capabilities. In fact, digital sales transformation is about making technology focus on the process, so you can focus on the customer.

Courtesy of John Hopkins Carey Business School

Trends Among New Entrepreneurs in the U. S. , 1996-2019.

In this brief, we report on trends in race and ethnicity, age, and immigration among new entrepreneurs in the United States between 1996 and 2019.  The rate of new entrepreneurs captures the percentage of the adult, non-business owner population that starts a business each
month. This is a yearly average, and it measures entrepreneurial activity broadly defined, capturing employers and non-employers and incorporated and unincorporated businesses. The rate of new entrepreneurs includes business owners regardless of business size, origin, growth potential, or intentions.

Highlights:  The share of all new entrepreneurs who are Latino more than doubled between 1996 and 2019 while the share who are White decreased over the same time period.New entrepreneurs were largely young in 1996, and were more likely to represent all ages by 2019. In 2019, about 1 in 4 new entrepreneurs was an immigrant. This is close to twice the share of entrepreneurs that were immigrants in 1996.

Who is the Entrepreneur? Race and Ethnicity, Age, and Immigration Trends among New Entrepreneurs in the United States, 1996–2019 | 2020, No. 9

The share of new entrepreneurs refers to the percentage of new entrepreneurs who belong to a specific race and ethnicity. Race and ethnicity groups reported here are Asian, Black, Latino, and White.

The share of new entrepreneurs by race and ethnicity is reported in Table 1. Between 1996 and 2019, the Latino share increased from 10.0% to 22.8%, the Black share increased from 8.4% to 10.1%, the White share decreased from 77.1% to 58.0%, and the Asian share increased from 3.4% to 7.0%.

The share of all new entrepreneurs who are Latino nearly doubled over the time period. In 2009 and 2010, the White and Black shares of new entrepreneurs fell by 4.5 percentage points and 1 percentage point, respectively. In these years, the Latino and Asian shares increased by 4.7 and 1.2 percentage points.

The share of new entrepreneurs by age group is reported in Table 2. Between 1996 and 2019, the share of new entrepreneurs aged 20–34 decreased from 34.3% to 27.2%. Over the same time period, the share of new entrepreneurs aged 35–44 decreased from 27.4% to 22.9% and the share of new entrepreneurs aged 45–54 increased slightly from 23.5% to 24.8%. Those aged 55–64 represented about 1 in 4 new entrepreneurs in 2019 (25.1%), compared to 14.8% in 1996.

The composition of new entrepreneurs in the United States has been aging. By 2019, about half of new entrepreneurs were aged 20–44 and half were aged 45–64. Those aged 20–44 accounted for 61.7% of new entrepreneurs in 1996, compared to 50.1% in 2019, while those aged 45–64 accounted for 38.3% in 1996 and 49.9% in 2019. By 2019, new entrepreneurs were generally likely to be coming from all age groups, whereas in 1996, more than one third were between 20–34.

The share of new entrepreneurs refers to the percentage of new entrepreneurs who are either immigrants or native-born

The share of new entrepreneurs by nativity is reported in Table 3. Immigrants account for 25.4% of all new entrepreneurs in 2019, which represents nearly twice the share of new entrepreneurs in 1996 (13.3%). Over this time period, the share of new entrepreneurs who were native-born decreased from 86.7% to 74.6%.

Data for the rate of new entrepreneurs is one of the four indicators in the Kauffman Indicators of Early-Stage Entrepreneurship Series. Since 1996, it has been compiled by Robert Fairlie using a monthly panel dataset of the Current Population Survey (CPS). See

There’s No Going Back to the Pre-Pandemic Economy. Congress Should Respond Accordingly.

Article from Steve Case, founder of AOL and CEO of Revolution based in Wash., D.C. and backs entrepreneurs outside of Silicon Valley, the “rest” of America.

There’s no going back to the pre-pandemic economy. Congress should respond –

This week, Congress will likely take up the next steps in the economic response to the covid-19 pandemic. If the package is like previous efforts, it will focus on trying to turn back the clock to February 2020: treating the economy as if it were Sleeping Beauty, merely needing to be awakened to be fully restored. This strategy is a mistake: Congress needs to stop solely backing efforts to restore the old economic reality and focus on how to develop a new one.

Most of the $1 trillion that Congress has put into business support so far during the pandemic has been directed to preserving existing firms through the Paycheck Protection Program and the Main Street Relief Fund. Helping those businesses and their workers is vital, but that alone won’t fuel the economic recovery the country needs.

The problem is that many of the businesses backed by PPP or Main Street are going to wind up shutting down. Even when they aren’t facing a global pandemic or economic crisis, about 100,000 small and medium-size businesses fail in the United States every year. New businesses will be needed to replace the ones that permanently close. Moreover, the failure rate is likely to be higher, as many firms were on the wrong side of trends — such as the move to online shopping, convenient food delivery or watching streaming content at home — that the pandemic lockdown has accelerated.

Another consideration: The protests stirred by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody have made clear how many Americans were left behind in the pre-coronavirus economy; restoring the way things were before the virus hit won’t address these needs.

Here are three ways Congress can help launch a new, more equitable era of entrepreneurship.

First: Make it easier for the earliest-stage start-ups to receive PPP dollars and for all start-ups to access the Main Street Relief Fund. PPP loans go to existing businesses to maintain jobs but not to new businesses that want to create them. Main Street loans go only to companies that are already profitable; most start-ups are not. That approach is backward: Studiesshow that nearly all net new job creation comes from start-ups, not established businesses.

A PPP revision should allow start-ups to obtain loans based on their plans to create jobs — with loan forgiveness granted only if those jobs materialize. If they don’t, the start-ups should be required to repay the loans before any other obligations. And the barrier in the Main Street lending program that makes businesses ineligible for aid if they were not profitable in 2019 should be removed.

Second, the government needs to be a counterweight to private capital that exacerbates geographic disparities in opportunity as the country responds to the crisis. The pandemic is a devastating tragedy, but adversity tends to be met by the creation of new industries and new businesses. This crisis will stir innovations in medicine, goods and services delivered at home, remote work and learning, and more. Where will these new firms grow? If the decision is left to the private sector alone, almost all of them will be in three states: New York, California and Massachusetts, which attract 75 percent of all venture capital.

Great ideas to respond to this crisis are spread widely across the country — but capital is not. Business assistance programs created by Congress should have a special focus on getting start-ups off the ground in places that have lacked venture capital backing in the past. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and others have already proposed such legislation; members of Congress from these neglected areas should insist it is part of any Phase 4 bill.

Finally, lawmakers should step in to address unintended inequalities of opportunity for female and minority entrepreneurs caused by the earlier relief bills. Because these programs fund only existing businesses, they reinforce opportunity gaps. Communities with thriving businesses get more PPP and Main Street aid; those that have lacked capital to get businesses off the ground in the past see little help now.

The solution would be for Congress to direct unused PPP funds to start-ups led by female entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color, creating opportunities where they have not existed before. The Main Street Lending program could be modified to extend special debt options to community development groups and minority-focused accelerators to back a new wave of start-ups founded by historically underrepresented entrepreneurs.

There’s no going back to the pre-pandemic U.S. economy. Too much has changed; too many new needs exist. This is a rare opportunity to break with the past and create a better future. Congress should grab it.

Eight Essentials for Innovation

Strategic and organizational factors are what separate successful big-company innovators from the rest of the field.

It’s no secret: innovation is difficult for well-established companies. By and large, they are better executors than innovators, and most succeed less through game-changing creativity than by optimizing their existing businesses.

In this engaging presentation, McKinsey principal Nathan Marston explains why innovation is increasingly important to driving corporate growth and brings to life the eight essentials of innovation performance.

Yet hard as it is for such organizations to innovate, large ones as diverse as Alcoa, the Discovery Group, and NASA’s Ames Research Center are actually doing so. What can other companies learn from their approaches and attributes? That question formed the core of a multiyear study comprising in-depth interviews, workshops, and surveys of more than 2,500 executives in over 300 companies, including both performance leaders and laggards, in a broad set of industries and countries (Exhibit 1). What we found were a set of eight essential attributes that are present, either in part or in full, at every big company that’s a high performer in product, process, or business-model innovation.

Since innovation is a complex, company-wide endeavor, it requires a set of crosscutting practices and processes to structure, organize, and encourage it. Taken together, the essentials described in this article constitute just such an operating system, as seen in Exhibit 2. These often overlapping, iterative, and nonsequential practices resist systematic categorization but can nonetheless be thought of in two groups. The first four, which are strategic and creative in nature, help set and prioritize the terms and conditions under which innovation is more likely to thrive. The next four essentials deal with how to deliver and organize for innovation repeatedly over time and with enough value to contribute meaningfully to overall performance.

To be sure, there’s no proven formula for success, particularly when it comes to innovation. While our years of client-service experience provide strong indicators for the existence of a causal relationship between the attributes that survey respondents reported and the innovations of the companies we studied, the statistics described here can only prove correlation. Yet we firmly believe that if companies assimilate and apply these essentials—in their own way, in accordance with their particular context, capabilities, organizational culture, and appetite for risk—they will improve the likelihood that they, too, can rekindle the lost spark of innovation. In the digital age, the pace of change has gone into hyperspeed, so companies must get these strategic, creative, executional, and organizational factors right to innovate successfully.


President John F. Kennedy’s bold aspiration, in 1962, to “go to the moon in this decade” motivated a nation to unprecedented levels of innovation. A far-reaching vision can be a compelling catalyst, provided it’s realistic enough to stimulate action today.

But in a corporate setting, as many CEOs have discovered, even the most inspiring words often are insufficient, no matter how many times they are repeated. It helps to combine high-level aspirations with estimates of the value that innovation should generate to meet financial-growth objectives. Quantifying an “innovation target for growth,” and making it an explicit part of future strategic plans, helps solidify the importance of and accountability for innovation. The target itself must be large enough to force managers to include innovation investments in their business plans. If they can make their numbers using other, less risky tactics, our experience suggests that they (quite rationally) will.

Establishing a quantitative innovation aspiration is not enough, however. The target value needs to be apportioned to relevant business “owners” and cascaded down to their organizations in the form of performance targets and timelines. Anything less risks encouraging inaction or the belief that innovation is someone else’s job.

For example, Lantmännen, a big Nordic agricultural cooperative, was challenged by flat organic growth and directionless innovation. Top executives created an aspirational vision and strategic plan linked to financial targets: 6 percent growth in the core business and 2 percent growth in new organic ventures. To encourage innovation projects, these quantitative targets were cascaded down to business units and, ultimately, to product groups. During the development of each innovation project, it had to show how it was helping to achieve the growth targets for its category and markets. As a result, Lantmännen went from 4 percent to 13 percent annual growth, underpinned by the successful launch of several new brands. Indeed, it became the market leader in premade food only four years after entry and created a new premium segment in this market.

Such performance parameters can seem painful to managers more accustomed to the traditional approach. In our experience, though, CEOs are likely just going through the motions if they don’t use evaluations and remuneration to assess and recognize the contribution that all top managers make to innovation.


Fresh, creative insights are invaluable, but in our experience many companies run into difficulty less from a scarcity of new ideas than from the struggle to determine whichideas to support and scale. At bigger companies, this can be particularly problematic during market discontinuities, when supporting the next wave of growth may seem too risky, at least until competitive dynamics force painful changes.

Innovation is inherently risky, to be sure, and getting the most from a portfolio of innovation initiatives is more about managing risk than eliminating it. Since no one knows exactly where valuable innovations will emerge, and searching everywhere is impractical, executives must create some boundary conditions for the opportunity spaces they want to explore. The process of identifying and bounding these spaces can run the gamut from intuitive visions of the future to carefully scrutinized strategic analyses. Thoughtfully prioritizing these spaces also allows companies to assess whether they have enough investment behind their most valuable opportunities.

During this process, companies should set in motion more projects than they will ultimately be able to finance, which makes it easier to kill those that prove less promising. RELX Group, for example, runs 10 to 15 experiments per major customer segment, each funded with a preliminary budget of around $200,000, through its innovation pipeline every year, choosing subsequently to invest more significant funds in one or two of them, and dropping the rest. “One of the hardest things to figure out is when to kill something,” says Kumsal Bayazit, RELX Group’s chief strategy officer. “It’s a heck of a lot easier if you have a portfolio of ideas.”

Once the opportunities are defined, companies need transparency into what people are working on and a governance process that constantly assesses not only the expected value, timing, and risk of the initiatives in the portfolio but also its overall composition. There’s no single mix that’s universally right. Most established companies err on the side of overloading their innovation pipelines with relatively safe, short-term, and incremental projects that have little chance of realizing their growth targets or staying within their risk parameters. Some spread themselves thinly across too many projects instead of focusing on those with the highest potential for success and resourcing them to win.

These tendencies get reinforced by a sluggish resource-reallocation process. Our research shows that a company typically reallocates only a tiny fraction of its resources from year to year, thereby sentencing innovation to a stagnating march of incrementalism.


Innovation also requires actionable and differentiated insights—the kind that excite customers and bring new categories and markets into being. How do companies develop them? Genius is always an appealing approach, if you have or can get it. Fortunately, innovation yields to other approaches besides exceptional creativity.

The rest of us can look for insights by methodically and systematically scrutinizing three areas: a valuable problem to solve, a technology that enables a solution, and a business model that generates money from it. You could argue that nearly every successful innovation occurs at the intersection of these three elements. Companies that effectively collect, synthesize, and “collide” them stand the highest probability of success. “If you get the sweet spot of what the customer is struggling with, and at the same time get a deeper knowledge of the new technologies coming along and find a mechanism for how these two things can come together, then you are going to get good returns,” says Alcoa chairman and chief executive Klaus Kleinfeld.

The insight-discovery process, which extends beyond a company’s boundaries to include insight-generating partnerships, is the lifeblood of innovation. We won’t belabor the matter here, though, because it’s already the subject of countless articles and books.2 One thing we can add is that discovery is iterative, and the active use of prototypes can help companies continue to learn as they develop, test, validate, and refine their innovations. Moreover, we firmly believe that without a fully developed innovation system encompassing the other elements described in this article, large organizations probably won’t innovate successfully, no matter how effective their insight-generation process is.

Business-model innovations—which change the economics of the value chain, diversify profit streams, and/or modify delivery models—have always been a vital part of a strong innovation portfolio. As smartphones and mobile apps threaten to upend oldline industries, business-model innovation has become all the more urgent: established companies must reinvent their businesses before technology-driven upstarts do. Why, then, do most innovation systems so squarely emphasize new products? The reason, of course, is that most big companies are reluctant to risk tampering with their core business model until it’s visibly under threat. At that point, they can only hope it’s not too late.

Leading companies combat this troubling tendency in a number of ways. They up their game in market intelligence, the better to separate signal from noise. They establish funding vehicles for new businesses that don’t fit into the current structure. They constantly reevaluate their position in the value chain, carefully considering business models that might deliver value to priority groups of new customers. They sponsor pilot projects and experiments away from the core business to help combat narrow conceptions of what they are and do. And they stress-test newly emerging value propositions and operating models against countermoves by competitors.

Amazon does a particularly strong job extending itself into new business models by addressing the emerging needs of its customers and suppliers. In fact, it has included many of its suppliers in its customer base by offering them an increasingly wide range of services, from hosted computing to warehouse management. Another strong performer, the Financial Times, was already experimenting with its business model in response to the increasing digitalization of media when, in 2007, it launched an innovative subscription model, upending its relationship with advertisers and readers. “We went against the received wisdom of popular strategies at the time,” says Caspar de Bono, FT board member and managing director of B2B. “We were very deliberate in getting ahead of the emerging structural change, and the decisions turned out to be very successful.” In print’s heyday, 80 percent of the FT’s revenue came from print advertising. Now, more than half of it comes from content, and two-thirds of circulation comes from digital subscriptions.


Virulent antibodies undermine innovation at many large companies. Cautious governance processes make it easy for stifling bureaucracies in marketing, legal, IT, and other functions to find reasons to halt or slow approvals. Too often, companies simply get in the way of their own attempts to innovate. A surprising number of impressive innovations from companies were actually the fruit of their mavericks, who succeeded in bypassing their early-approval processes. Clearly, there’s a balance to be maintained: bureaucracy must be held in check, yet the rush to market should not undermine the cross-functional collaboration, continuous learning cycles, and clear decision pathways that help enable innovation. Are managers with the right knowledge, skills, and experience making the crucial decisions in a timely manner, so that innovation continually moves through an organization in a way that creates and maintains competitive advantage, without exposing a company to unnecessary risk?

Companies also thrive by testing their promising ideas with customers early in the process, before internal forces impose modifications that blur the original value proposition. To end up with the innovation initially envisioned, it’s necessary to knock down the barriers that stand between a great idea and the end user. Companies need a well-connected manager to take charge of a project and be responsible for the budget, time to market, and key specifications—a person who can say yes rather than no. In addition, the project team needs to be cross-functional in reality, not just on paper. This means locating its members in a single place and ensuring that they give the project a significant amount of their time (at least half) to support a culture that puts the innovation project’s success above the success of each function.

Cross-functional collaboration can help ensure end-user involvement throughout the development process. At many companies, marketing’s role is to champion the interests of end users as development teams evolve products and to help ensure that the final result is what everyone first envisioned. But this responsibility is honored more often in the breach than in the observance. Other companies, meanwhile, rationalize that consumers don’t necessarily know what they want until it becomes available. This may be true, but customers can certainly say what they don’t like. And the more quickly and frequently a project team gets—and uses—feedback, the more quickly it gets a great end result.


Some ideas, such as luxury goods and many smartphone apps, are destined for niche markets. Others, like social networks, work at global scale. Explicitly considering the appropriate magnitude and reach of a given idea is important to ensuring that the right resources and risks are involved in pursuing it. The seemingly safer option of scaling up over time can be a death sentence. Resources and capabilities must be marshaled to make sure a new product or service can be delivered quickly at the desired volume and quality. Manufacturing facilities, suppliers, distributors, and others must be prepared to execute a rapid and full rollout.

For example, when TomTom launched its first touch-screen navigational device, in 2004, the product flew off the shelves. By 2006, TomTom’s line of portable navigation devices reached sales of about 5 million units a year, and by 2008, yearly volume had jumped to more than 12 million. “That’s faster market penetration than mobile phones” had, says Harold Goddijn, TomTom’s CEO and cofounder. While TomTom’s initial accomplishment lay in combining a well-defined consumer problem with widely available technology components, rapid scaling was vital to the product’s continuing success. “We doubled down on managing our cash, our operations, maintaining quality, all the parts of the iceberg no one sees,” Goddijn adds. “We were hugely well organized.”

Article Courtesy of McKinsey & Co. Amsterdam office, Marc de Jong and London Nathan Martson.

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Entrepreneurship in the Covid-19 Era

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned out to be the most significant disruptive event witnessed by this generation. From mainstreaming remote working, cutting global travel to a comprehensive digital shift, the outbreak has changed the way businesses are executed. This transformational effect is not momentary; it is significant and is here to stay.

One of the most notable elements of this transformation is the way organizations have been forced to embrace digital marketing to be able to survive the crisis. As traditional marketing strategies stand curtailed due to the pandemic, businesses have moved quickly to embrace digital marketing and transform the way they attract and engage customers and clients.

As people stay indoors, malls and roads stand deserted there has been a shift to space where businesses and customers interact less physically and more through the online route. Digital services providers will tell you how there has been a surge in organizations seeking to create new websites or update existing ones, creating elaborate social media campaigns, and launching new e-commerce channels. Intelligent content creation and SEO are other elements that are receiving a fresh focus from companies. Truth be told, organizations that embrace this transformation quickly and more comprehensively are the ones that are more likely to survive compared with those who are resistant to change.

Here are some more changing phases of entrepreneurship that are adjusting the ‘new normal’.

The Age of Webinars  –  As live conferences and face-to-face engagement activities take a backseat, organizations are working out new ways to engage with customers. Webinars have emerged as a very popular way of achieving digital thought leadership and getting quality leads. At the same time, customer engagement is also taking place with these digital discussions. That’s why there is a sea of webinars everywhere to spread the message. Even when the crisis ebbs, people are likely to continue to conduct a part of their thought-leadership events through webinars as more and more people realize that they serve the same purpose at a fraction of the cost. Webinars that have now filled the gap of traditional conferences are likely to become a mainstream marketing strategy in the new normal.

Increased usage of data analytics  –  In a digital age, data analytics has always been a value proposition. However, as organizations increase their digital presence, the importance of creating useful databases has only increased. With more people spending a longer time on social media, their chances of seeing ads on such platforms or coming in touch with content marketing blogs are greater. This is why organizations now need to create valuable databases, analyze them, and use this information intelligently to reach out to the target audience. Tracking patterns of consumer behavior, tracking online traffic patterns, analyzing which content retains the customer, and getting a break up of which products are enticing what type of customers are essential elements of data analytics that organizations need to use more to boost their online sales.

Content is the King

Businesses must focus on expanding social media presence by creating intelligent and attractive content. With the shift from outbound marketing to inbound marketing, it becomes essential to engage consumers in subjects they might find interesting. However, it is important to understand that content distributed on social media should not be promotional in nature as it kills consumer interest. Your content must be knowledge and awareness-based. It must engage consumers emotionally through human interest stories rather than blatantly promoting your product.

Courtesy Dr. Narendra Shyamsukha
Founder & Chairman, ICA Edu Skills

Meet Amazon’s (AWS) Startup Programs

Huge investments in hardware and software tend to slow startups down. AWS allows you to access the resources you need easily and quickly. … Instead of waiting for a new server and hire a database administrator, startups can just use Amazon’s AWS and start working on their apps, for example

Most startups have so much to do without having the required budget or the technical expertise to accomplish their tasks. This is why startups should really consider Amazon’s AWS to help them get the job done.

It used to be that startups were in a disadvantaged position because they need to spend a lot of money in order to have the infrastructure to test and develop their services, and to support their growth. And traditionally, startups were forced to start big, making it a struggle for them to make profits gradually as time goes by. It was either that or to admit failure in time and give up. AWS changed all of that!

And you would be in good company, as well. Amazon has revealed that some of today’s most successful businesses started out using Amazon AWS. If you are a startup, then you would breathe easier knowing that Pinterest, Tinder, Spotify, Yelp, Airbnb, Dropcam, FunPlus, FourSquare, and AdRoll, all used AWS during their early stages and even until now, when they have already become some of the most recognizable brands.

What are the specific reasons for startups to consider AWS?

1.  Amazon’s AWS has everything.

Think of the Swiss Army knife. It has everything you need to survive. Now think about AWS and compare it to the Swiss Army Knife. AWS has everything you need to stay competitive and to survive in today’s business climate.

You could get access to AWS’ wide range of offerings that you might need, and they have almost everything that most startups require. From relational databases, to servers, traffic, Hadoop deployments on EC2, storage, user generated content on S3, metadata and roll ups on DynamoDB, Route 53, and to ElastiCache.

For startups, you need to be very agile. Whether you have an original idea or a great product, or you are playing catch-up in a growing market, you need to be able to get the infrastructure you need without worrying about huge capital outlays upfront. Huge investments in hardware and software tend to slow startups down. AWS allows you to access the resources you need easily and quickly. It enables for quick provision of services and technologies, and relies on its big infrastructure technology platform. Instead of waiting for a new server and hire a database administrator, startups can just use Amazon’s AWS and start working on their apps, for example.

Another thing, AWS is not only a leader because of the wide range of services it offers, it also gives you deep functionality for each service. For instance, you do not only get a general compute resource, you can also take advantage of different options and features such as getting compute resources that are optimized for memory, storage and I/O. Another example is that Amazon’s relational databases work with MySQL, SQL Server, Oracle, Postgre SQL, and Amazon Aurora.

2.  AWS is continuously innovating.

If you have unique needs that AWS is currently not offering, do not fret. AWS has been innovating and adding services here and there, at a pace that cannot be beaten. For instance, in 2008, the said platform only offered EC2 and EBS. The next year, they added three new services, and then 20 more services over the next three years. That pace has not slowed down and if you follow their annual AWS re:Invent events, you would see what the cloud service provider has been up to and what it plans to roll out in the near future.

3.  AWS is easy on the budget.

AWS prices its offering fairly and competitively, and it is not one to shy away from a price war with its competitors. Plus, sharing AWS infrastructure cost with a lot of users means that they are able to leverage economies of scale to drive down costs further.

Amazon’s AWS then passes these savings to the customers, which in turn attracts more customers who use more AWS services. As you can see, it goes back to more users giving the company the chance to lower infrastructure costs while also adding more hardware and infrastructure. This effectively helps drive down prices while ensuring top-notch services.

Startups on AWS also love that they only pay for what they need, only when they need them.

4.  It is very easy to get on AWS.

With AWS, you get access to a wide range of affordable services provided by one vendor, and you do not have to worry about contracts and legal terminologies.

Amazon’s AWS has made it a point to make enrolment to its various services very simple; all it takes is a few clicks. Compare that to the old way of doing things, wherein you are bound by contracts and you have to negotiate for a fair price and customizations with different vendors.

5.  AWS welcomes that “wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am” attitude.

AWS prices its offering fairly and competitively, and it is not one to shy away from a price war with its competitors. Plus, sharing AWS infrastructure cost with a lot of users means that they are able to leverage economies of scale to drive down costs further.

Amazon’s AWS then passes these savings to the customers, which in turn attracts more customers who use more AWS services. As you can see, it goes back to more users giving the company the chance to lower infrastructure costs while also adding more hardware and infrastructure. This effectively helps drive down prices while ensuring top-notch services.

Startups on AWS also love that they only pay for what they need, only when they need them.

6.  AWS gives startups worry-free backups.

No more worrying about your disaster recovery backups. You can use Amazon AWS for that. Specifically, you can use EC2 to synchronize files between two computers while using S3 to store your disk backups.

Courtesy Four Cornerstone March 2020


7 Resources for 1099 Contractors During Coronavirus Pandemic

COVID-19 is having an impact on all areas of the economy. From large businesses to smaller restaurants, everyone is having to adjust to a new normal in business activity. Freelancers and other 1099 contractors are no different. With several foundations, corporate relief funds and other financial programs emerging from a variety of industries, it’s not clear how freelance workers are being supported during this time.

Here is a list of seven resources for freelancers struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, including a list of industry-specific grants and funds worth applying for as a freelancer, self-employed worker or independent contractor.

Expanded unemployment benefits

Due to COVID-19, independent contractors can qualify for unemployment payments from the government. In the past, this service was not available to freelancers and 1099 contractors. By following the steps specific to your state, you can qualify for relief and potentially a $600 weekly increase during this time. While this may be a long process to apply, it can help greatly once you’re approved. Be sure to stay up to date with your application and have an understanding of how your state’s unemployment relief is changing due to the virus.

The Small Business Administration

The SBA has announced extensive programs to help struggling small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. While freelancers and other 1099 workers work on a contract basis, if you’ve established a business entity in your name, you may be able to qualify for a loan. In New York City alone, for example, loans with no interest are being offered to all businesses with less than 100 employees. Look into disaster relief loans and other financial assistance available in your state.

SBA debt relief

If you already have a loan through the SBA 7(a), Community Advantage, 504, and microloan programs, you can qualify for payment relief for up to six months. Again, while this isn’t a program specifically designed for freelancers, it can benefit those that have created business entities and are in debt with SBA.

Depending on the industry you work within, there may be a grant or relief fund you can apply for.

Industry-specific grants and relief funds

Depending on the industry you work within, there may be a grant or relief fund you can apply for. Below is a list of options you want to consider based on your industry. The industries include comedy, writing, contemporary arts and other creative freelance industries.