Necessity is the mother of innovation, as evidenced by the current startup surge, with new businesses opening up at rapid rates across the globe. In addition, the events of 2020 brought about a global awakening to social inequities such as racial injustice, climate change, and income inequality. Creating solutions to right these societal wrongs requires constructing economic systems guided by ethics and empathy rather than individual interests. Human-centered or humane, entrepreneurship addresses the needs of both employees and society at large. With an emphasis on inclusiveness, cooperation over competitiveness, and leading humanity forward, this way of operating is making space for an entrepreneurial revolution that disrupts society as we know it.
As we evolve into a more inclusive society, the idea of the consumer is expanding. This evolution requires an upheaval of old entrepreneurial mindsets to make room for the new. Traditional consumerism operates off a social contract, where companies agree to address customer needs in exchange for capital. Current capitalist economic models, which are often built off these social contracts, are being revealed to have been perpetrators of rising inequality and mass pollution. As the definition of what society needs changes, these social contracts must follow suit.
Today, the most pressing issues around the globe have reached a scale that requires both governments and corporations to work together to make impactful change. In the wake of the climate crisis, companies that want a competitive edge will ironically have to forgo their fundamental sense of competition when trying to operate, as meaningful progress is not possible without cross-industry cooperation. Rather than using competition to fuel innovation, cooperation and collaboration will ensure that individual enterprises hold up their end of the climate bargain, ultimately benefiting both company and consumer. After all, there is no business, no capitalism, no success on a dead planet.
Meanwhile, COVID-era entrepreneurs, taking advantage of the digitization and networks established by earlier tech firms, are creating businesses that are solutions-oriented and targeted to fill societal gaps. Today’s challenges require innovation to improve the overall well-being of society. In market economies, where corporations are potent institutions, they are responsible for addressing consumer needs. As the definition of these societal demands changes, there is a void for a new era of SMEs and startups to step in first. Improving our current systems requires a humane form of entrepreneurship, and self-starters that adopt this framework are set to be the next business titans of tomorrow.
Let us start this entrepreneurial revolution together!