Young: Technology opens new business opportunities

What’s new in economic development, investment and innovation centres seems to be the “flavour of the month” syndrome.

What a week over these past seven days— technology deals, investment projects, community partners vying for winner-take-all and governments wondering what is going to blindside us next.

But has anyone of you taken the time to stop, look and listen to the plethora of dance partners that the Okanagan offers us in the world of organizational development?

What’s new in economic development, investment and innovation centres seems to be the “flavour of the month” syndrome that permeates every corner of our days.

This year has seen an onslaught of angel investment scenarios that would stumble the normal mind.

Every day seems bring up a game to play to find that brass ring of venture capital, partnerships to turn an entrepreneurial dream into the reality world of success.

But c’mon now, let’s be real, please!

It seems 2012 was a good year for the classic entrepreneur. Substantial leaps in technology have made it continually easier for widespread adoption of a seemingly good idea and for a small venture to scale successfully to an empire.

As we look ahead to the 2013-14  curve, all eyes now focus on upcoming trends for the balance of this year and into next which will fuel innovation, job creation and economic growth.

As the Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society and the Capital News entrepreneur columnist in residence, I constantly have my ear to the ground of the entrepreneur community and the investment world.

In the past year, I was lucky enough to speak to many entrepreneurs of all levels of execution, and from those conversations it is easy to predict trends that may shape entrepreneurship over the next few years.

For example, traditional financial institutions have never been stricter with their financing constraints.

Most entrepreneurial ventures are continuing to bootstrap but are encouraged by alternative funding options as more borrowers and lenders are becoming quite creative.

Crowd funding, peer to peer lending sites, investor associations, angel investors and revenue-based financing are merely a few of the examples of alternative financing tools increasingly available to our technological entrepreneurs of the success mill.

The trend in big companies investing in small companies also plays a role in providing capital to entrepreneurs whose ventures may grow to become long term partners or even potential customers.

With the explosion of big data technologies predicted to increase to 43 per cent over the next 10 years and with that accelerated adoption of the Cloud, more and more companies will look to technology as a strategic advantage to scaling successfully in their journey.

As budgets remain tight, venturists will increasingly look to outside tech vendors to serve as advisors and will expect them to provide IT services and tailored recommendations to met their specific needs.

Make no mistake, entrepreneurs have the same IT concerns and priorities as large established corporations but are often working on a much tighter budget.

In order to address their top priorities, new entrepreneurs need to be agile and have the flexibility to scale up and down depending on customer demand.

This enables smaller ventures to solve short-term needs while simultaneously keeping an eye on longer term challenges. Entrepreneurs continue to struggle with accessing qualified sustainable talent.

In particular, I’ve heard from entrepreneurs who say they have jobs available, but there are not enough people with the specific skills to compete in the job market from sales roles to even operating manufacturing equipment.

A lot can be gained by understanding how to maximize current and potential human capital within an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Online and in-person networking opportunities have been ever so valuable for matching potential employees to openings.

Training will always be a key factor in ensuring our future workforce has the skills to compete in the critical job market, and those still facing unemployment will need to look to training solutions for today’s jobs.

The problem is a challenge, one I am told frequently we ought to expect that technology will be a vital piece in bridging this gap between employers, training and the workforce.

Now, more than ever, I am told by our technological gurus we will see an influx of groups that cultivate a vibrant community of entrepreneurs who connect with one another for new sources of financial and human capital, knowledge and market share.

Be wary and alive  Okanagan entrepreneurs of today and tomorrow as you are the future to not only the region, but our province and our nation.

Please don’t settle for anything but the best that you can be in your dream quest, for it is the dreamers who make our world what it is and can be.

We are here for you.


Kelowna Capital News