“While being in the present with a focus on your immediate goals is vital, the smart entrepreneur is the one that keeps an eye on the future,” says Andrew Maren, founder and CEO of Fintech ProfitShare Partners, the entity that provides access to finance for SMEs.
“As an ex-banker and serial entrepreneur, I review what others in our sector are doing and the new tech that’s appearing regularly,” he says. “Those who neglect to do this often find themselves facing ‘sudden’ challenges they might have seen earlier if they’d scanned local and international business news periodically.”
One example Maren highlights is the story of Netflix vs Blockbuster: Business Wars, “The story is told a few times on YouTube, but the lesson is the same,” Maren asserts. In brief, Blockbuster was the video giant founded by David Cook, who saw the potential in the video-rental business.
“In 2000, Netflix wanted to sell to Blockbuster for $50 million. Unfortunately for the Big Guys, they couldn’t see the value the Netflix ‘upstarts’ had seen, and walked away from the deal.”
The rest, he notes, is history. Netflix had looked ahead, noted new technology on the rise, and had the vision Blockbuster lacked. “One report says that Blockbuster’s CEO ‘struggled not to laugh’ at a chance to buy Netflix. Without spoiling the whole story, Blockbuster went bust and Netflix is the streaming giant we see today, with 223.09 million subscribers in 2022, and the ability of paying millions for fresh, company-owned content.”
How did Blockbuster miss what Netflix offered?
Maren says one of the biggest challenges to stay aware of, for an entrepreneur or start-up is complacency. “The minute we think we have the market tied up, someone will come along with a new idea, better software, and the means to do it better. Feeling certain that ‘our way is best’ can often be the death knell of the entrepreneurial spirit.”
Keeping that spirit alive requires exercising it. Here are some tips to ensure you stay open to new ideas and not believe nobody will ever do things better than your firm can:
- Follow companies in your industry or allied industries on Twitter and LinkedIn. Watch for who venture capitalists are following, and follow them too.
- Sign up to newsletters and e-zines – fintech news, tech and IT mags, marketing publications, and spend a couple of hours on a weekend scanning to see what others are doing that could impact you – negatively and positively.
- Never stop learning, growing and sticking to your original mission, ethics and drive. These three things are the foundation of your reputation – sometimes they make the difference between someone choosing you over another entity.
- Stay present regarding your goals, but keep one eye on the horizon.
“In this digital and tech age where things change rapidly, opportunities are picked up by the swift and agile. Make sure that’s you…”, Maren concludes.