There’s an iconic business book called The E-Myth, which addresses some early stage challenges faced by entrepreneurs as they seek to create a business that is highly manageable, scalable and profitable.
Principally, it argues entrepreneurs must surrender their identity as a successful “masterful professional” who controls every aspect of the business and start hiring people who are able to fill that role so they can focus on taking the business to the next level.
Many things have changed since The E-Myth was written more than 25 years ago. One of the major shifts is the scale of the opportunities in front of today’s entrepreneurs. Thanks to the digital economy, today’s SMEs are much more inclined to think in global terms, which in turn means they are likely to think in bigger terms about the possibility for their business.
What remains true is the need for entrepreneurs to move beyond their “flying solo” mindset. This means moving beyond my ‘give up your day job’ advice, and going one step further by surrounding themselves with appropriate experts or expertise across all areas of a venture.
Simply put, the do-it-yourself mentality just won’t cut it when it comes to scaling your business.
In Australia we have a huge opportunity to create global business – to build more Atlassians, 99designs and Campaign Monitors – tech startups that have created 540,000 new jobs and by 2033 could be contributing $109bn annually to our economy.
We have the ideas. One of the most exciting elements of Shark Tank is uncovering incredible business ideas from across the country. This is world-leading innovation, fitted with a typical Aussie ‘keep it real’ mentality. For me, there is nothing better.
Necessity has truly been the mother of invention for many of the entrepreneurs pitching on Shark Tank. From the frustrated mum who invented the illuminated ThroatScope to help her son cope with oral medical examinations, to the enterprising outback adventurer who created ‘Rescue Swag’ as a more comprehensive emergency first aid kit to help with medical emergencies in remote locations.
Add to this equation the HEGS Peg – a peg with hooks – invented by a husband who wanted a way to hang his wife’s delicates without damaging them and the Dyskin Guitar, which makes learning to play the guitar really simple, you have an eclectic bunch of sheer genius inventions.
Take a bow Aussies.
Then take a deep breath and think about how successful you truly want your ventures to be.
There are accolades aplenty for those who invent clever things. It’s great party conversation and the PR halo can be huge. But accolades and acknowledgement don’t equal revenue and businesses don’t become global by themselves.
Necessity is the mother of invention on a national scale as we stare down our economic future. Do we want to remain a nation of middle-sized SME’s alongside multinationals and an internationally-controlled mining industry?
I sense we want to think bigger. We need to. The digital economy means we can no longer keep global competition at bay. Our businesses must become globally competitive, if we do not grow our businesses internationally others will come here for us.
That journey is a long and arduous one, and it’s not for the faint-hearted.
To ‘scale’ a business beyond an idea (and even an idea with some good local revenue attached) requires a team of experts and a lot of resourcing. That means asking for help.
It means parking your ego outside so you can allow experienced specialists to guide you in key areas; Areas such as patents and trademarks, manufacturing offshore, entering key international markets, partnering and sales and marketing.
I have yet to meet an entrepreneur who could do all or even most of that on their own. I have met plenty that try.
The good news is help is at hand for our entrepreneurs, and on a broader scale for our national economy, as the government turns its attention to supporting Australia’s business growth. We are also lucky to have support outside of government, with co-working communities, such as River City Labs in Brisbane, providing an environment for entrepreneurs and mentors to mix and share advice.
This next decade is a critical one and requires some bold thinking. We need brave and highly motivated entrepreneurs to step forward with their business opportunities. Our governments and community need to also rise to the challenge and be willing to commit resources and moral support to help these talented individuals create something that is much bigger than them – a business that can hold its own offshore and deliver tangible benefits to our Australian economy and national morale.
If Shark Tank demonstrates anything, it’s that Australians are awash with brilliant ideas. We truly are a clever country. Now let’s be a truly successful country and generate the rewards of all that clever thinking. That starts with thinking big and most importantly asking for the right kind of help.
This article first appeared on Business Review Weekly. View the original here.