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The Greatest Time to Be an Entrepreneur

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Amidst the daily deluge of negative news regarding current business and economic conditions, it is important to look at the big picture: namely the very bright, long-term outlook for business and entrepreneurship in our global, Internet age. A recent interview with Ted Leonsis – the current Chairman of Revolution Money - a new Web 2.0 payment platform and credit-card service and Vice Chairman Emeritus of AOL (and one of the key executives that fueled AOL's Internet rise in the 1990's), drives this point home.

"It's the greatest time to be an entrepreneur," was Ted's core theme at a recent Wharton Entrepreneurship Conference. Leonsis also made a number of prescient points regarding our current "three-screen world" – a world in which entertainment and commerce play out on computer screens, TVs, and mobile phones:

  • In this new world, consumer expectations are "off the charts." They want everything "great, fast, and free."

  • Today's consumers are a study in contradictions. They have a lot of purchasing power, but little leisure time. They are real estate rich (though increasingly less so), with less cash. Family life is more fractured, and people are overscheduled and on the move. They are watching less TV and living life online more and more. Only 25% of 30-year olds now read newspapers daily. Circulations are in long-term decline at the New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

  • In contrast, consumers now see the Internet as a "routine and indispensable part of their work and home life, spending 23% of their time hooked up to the Web, compared to seven minutes a day" in 1993.

  • North America now accounts for just 16% of worldwide Internet users, down from 35% in 2000. "If you're building products and services just for the U.S. market, you're giving up 80% of the market," Leonsis says.

  • Leonsis drives home the point that entrepreneurial opportunity has never been greater than it is right now, but by no means is it easy. "While it's never been easier to launch a new world-class business," investor and marketplace expectations are intense. "If you can't grow 25% month over month, we don't think you know what you're doing." If a startup doesn't take off fast, "you fall behind very, very quickly."

 

Just as significant, Leonsis says, is the "happiness business," which involves "getting out of the I, I and I, and really seeing where you want to fit into the bigger world."

At Growthink, we echo Ted Leonis' sentiments that business and entrepreneurship are and can be the best drivers of positive transformation in the world, and that Internet technologies and the global economy are and will accelerate this transformation to dizzying speed.

For more on Ted Leonsis, click here and here.


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