The pace of change and development is staggering, but because we are in the middle of it, it is often hard to appreciate how completely game changing it is. I don’t want to sound like an old man, but as one gets older it’s hard not to look at the youth in the developed world and utter the immortal phrase ‘Kids today don’t know they are born.’ I grew up in England in the 1980s, part of a single-parent family that survived on hand-outs from the government. Some of my earliest memories are of getting out of bed in our council house and having to wrap up in coats and hats to walk through the cold and wet to our outside toilet (which in all my memories had loads of spiders in it, but I’m guessing that was more a summer thing that a winter thing). That reality is so far removed from my own kids’ lives it is not even worth trying to explain it to them at this point. Yet when I hear from them in great detail about how hard and unfair their lives are because I limit their time on the iPad, I have to suppress the urge to talk about the ‘olden days.’
Yet, while I was growing up in the 80s, trying to avoid frostbite and spiders, there were some amazing entrepreneurs doing incredible things. People like Richard Branson, the Saatchi brothers and Rupert Murdoch. These entrepreneurs thrived in a time when the most exciting emerging technology was the fax machine. And they themselves stood on the shoulders of a generation of entrepreneurs before them, and those before them.
I have chosen to be based in Singapore, a city that is the result of amazing entrepreneurial vision. Yet it is almost inconceivable to me how Sir Stamford Raffles, the ‘founder’ of Singapore, managed to achieve all that he did in the 1800s. His technology was no more sophisticated than boats and the postal service. Simply getting a response to a request could take six months, and there was no guarantee that either the request or the response wouldn’t get lost at sea.
Were we lucky enough to go back in time and meet one of these people in their heyday, I would challenge you to complain about the battery life of the communications device you hold in your hand that allows you to video conference simultaneously with investors, clients and partners all over the world, while also updating your eBay listing to sell your year old flat screen TV!
So just as kids today complain about the injustices of not being allowed yet another Disney franchised doll in the house, so entrepreneurs consistently complain about how hard things are. Meet any group of entrepreneurs, or go onto any forum, and you will hear about how hard it is to reach clients, how difficult it is to raise money, how frustrating it is when Skype freezes in the middle of an important call, etc. If we were to show one of the great business owners from previous decades the tools we have access to now, it is more than likely they too would mutter something along the lines of:
“Entrepreneurs today don’t know they are born!”
But there is obviously more to this than acknowledging we have access to incredible power and resources that have never previously been available. The trick, of course is not just having access to these resources, but being able to line them up and have them all working for you rather than against you. The number of small businesses starting each year is continuing to increase, but the challenge is building a successful enterprise, and that is where partnerships come in.
If we take full ownership of our talents as individuals, then starting a business to capitalise on our graphics design skills or accounting knowledge makes perfect sense, and hundreds of thousands of people are choosing to do it. Yet the reality is often very different. You may previously have spent 50% of your time working on stuff you like and 50% of your time in meetings and internal reviews. Now you own your own business, however, you are suddenly in charge of IT, HR, Finance, Sales, Marketing, Operations and making coffee. This isn’t magnifying your personal value, it is diluting you to the point of exhaustion and frustration. Your idea is not wrong, the execution is wrong.You should be working on the things you are good at. You should be working with cool clients and bringing on cool team members. You should not be doing the other stuff. And this is where partnerships come in. You see the wealth of talent joining the economy each day, or leaving the corporate workplace, is very good at what they do. But they are generally terrible at the other stuff too. Partnerships are about understanding how to bring one and one together to create three, four or five.
To read in full or purchase Callum Laing’s full book Progressive Partnerships: The Future of Business in paperback or Kindle, visit: amazon.com/Progressive-Partnerships-Business-Callum-Laing/dp/1781331855/ref=sr_1_1
After spending almost a quarter of a century at the