As an entrepreneur, it's very easy to get caught up in your own individual bubble. Particularly in the early stages of a company, people tend to focus only on their business's performance. However I have always believed that if you are not keeping up with trends and developments in the wider market, you are only creating problems for yourself. There are numerous firms - even larger, established ones - who didn't keep up to date with developments and ended up going to the wall.
Unquestionably the biggest development over the course of my career has been from a technological perspective. The digital revolution has been huge and disruptive in a number of sectors. I remember clearly when online job portals first came onto the scene; many people within recruitment were quite worried. However I have always preferred to embrace new things rather than fear them, and I don't think anybody can deny that the recruitment process has been made more efficient by these portals and websites.
This has been excellent news for those entrepreneurs that are creative and willing to embrace new business models. Every month I seem to read about a new type of business which is making use of technology and the internet. For example, a few months ago I was told about food manufacturers in the US experimenting with "smart shelves" that use digital sensors and cameras to track customers. This allows for both the manufacturer and store to tailor offers and advertising messages to each individual. That's an idea has come about as a result of somebody thinking outside of the box and looking for ways to take advantage of developments.
In my experience, it is the most traditional of sectors that are becoming the most ripe for disruptive technology. I recently invested in the online estate agency eMoov who allow homeowners to sell their houses at a fraction of the price offered by traditional high street agencies. They still provide the same high quality customer service you would want from an estate agent, but by making use of the efficiencies the Internet provides, they are making the process more cost-effective for the customer. And it is the customer who is at the heart of these changes.
Whether you want to compare supermarket quotes, see reviews of holiday destinations you are going to, or download music - technology and the Internet has changed the game as far as consumer habits are concerned. This naturally means the way we do business has to change in order to keep up.
Customers are becoming more and more demanding in terms of what they expect, and as entrepreneurs, we need to act accordingly. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer base and look at how value can be added. Not only will it ensure that they have a quality experience, but it will also mean that the sectors we work in become more progressive and exciting.