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Entrepreneurship and the Terrorist Threat

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On the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, brought to the forefront of everyone's minds naturally and unfortunately comes the discussion of the terrorism threat, both in its perception and reality. Beyond remembering and honoring those that lost their lives on that horrific day six years ago, it is not our place here to comment on the over-riding geo-political issues and appropriate response strategies that naturally arise, but rather to reflect on how the "terrorism mindset" affects global entrepreneurship, risk tolerance, and industry opportunities. A few comments in this regard:

  • Distinguish Perception from Reality. Perhaps most important is the need to clearly distinguish the perception of terrorist threat and risk from its reality. Because of the incredible amount of news coverage and political currency that the terrorism discussion receives and generates, combined with its uniquely high fear-generating quotient, its impact on markets and business decision-making has a high likelihood of being overstated. This comment is meant by no means to minimize the threat, nor to be in anyway cavalier or insensitive to incredible loss of life on September 11th, but only to note that the resilience of human beings and of markets should never be underestimated. In this context, the worst mistake would be lack of business action and/or stasis because of a "waiting" mindset for the next attack.
  • Pursuing Global Opportunities Becomes More Urgent. Having said this, the threat is real and contrary to domestic media pronouncements, not uniquely concentrated on the United States. Small, groups, pursuing whatever cause, have been enabled by modern technology to disrupt on a vast basis the basic infrastructure of any society. The odds, however, of simultaneous, disruptive events taking place in multiple locales world-wide, perpetuated by aggrieved groups pursuing varying causes, is quite minimal. In short, global business diversification reduces terrorism risk.
  • Risk Tolerance. Again, at the risk of sounding cavalier, the 21st Century ongoing reality of catastrophic terrorism should, paradoxically, increase one's tolerance and appetite for risk. Or more bluntly - if the end of the world is to come, letǃÙs not meet it sitting on our hands.
  • Industry Opportunities. New business models and industries have sprung up since 9/11, driven by large governmental homeland security spending (and increased defense spending). Businesses across industries should have government outreach -- federal, state, local, and global -- and their wide-ranging security budgets and mandates as opportunities within their strategic marketing plans.

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