1. Female Entrepreneurs Rising.
Last year, for the first time ever, we did more business with female entrepreneurs than with males. While we’re a very small sample size, we still think that we represent a larger trend in the economy. Our female clients often perceive nuances in how people learn and buy that help them build software which is more human and “relatable”.
2. Mid-Life Entrepreneurs Trending.
There are a surprising number of middle-aged and older people getting into entrepreneurship.
We’re talking about people who’ve never started companies before and are not serial entrepreneurs – but do have business experience and savvy. I think economic optimism and the idea that “you only live once” is driving this phenomenon. Also, the desire for working independence which has been propagated by millennials is making its’ way upstream. Add to this the fact that older people are willing to stand the test of time and follow-through and often have more connections and resources.
3. Adversity and “hard work” are going away. Not.
I don’t buy the notion that as the technology advances, we won’t have to face adversity.
In fact, I think that if we don’t have to work, technology will quickly slow down and stall. Adversity is necessary/good for us. The entrepreneurs I know who faced huge obstacles and dealt with chaos or unfairness earlier in their lives tend to push through “impossible” situations later in life. And I say this as someone who had some obstacles, but nothing like the people I’m referring to. We can’t and shouldn’t try to program risk and adversity out of everything we do no matter how sophisticated out technology becomes. I have to remind myself that if I haven’t scared myself recently, I’m probably not pushing hard enough.
4. More Re-training Workers for Tech.
This is finally happening and I’m excited to see it!
As an example, many organizations are training former service-industry workers to perform QA and software testing. These entry-level positions can earn far more than service jobs and pave the way for individuals to move up in tech companies. College degrees are not a barrier, here. We don’t look for them. I think we need to give people a serious chance – but in order to give people them that chance, we also need some safeguards – see the next item.
5. Increasing Working Restrictions.
Technology startups need flexibility in structuring working relationships.
I call this a negative trend. The regulatory environment needs to be as creative as the businesses we start. For example, we have team members who want to own some of the risk and rewards of their work. Others ask us to take 3 hours off on a Wednesday to do a project with their kids and make it up on Thursday – but that pushes them into overtime. Still, others want to be paid for a project outcome. There is some reason to believe that less than 8 hours per day is more productive in certain fields or on highly abstract work, which potentially trashes the notion of “full-time”. What if we focused on regulations that allow parties to construct agreements in simple language and receive justice quickly when they are aggrieved?
6. Smaller Geographies getting into the mix.
Smaller cities hosting new startups are developing their own unique value propositions.
In 1903, the Wright Brothers’ “startup” was founded in Dayton, OH and on the sands of Kitty Hawk, NC. Today, Silicon valley and a few of the larger cities call themselves the center of the startup universe. In a way, they’re right – its simple math: $50k in seed money can’t compete with $500k. Or can it? From Knoxville TN to San Luis Obispo, CA, small-town startups play to a lifestyle, a creative element and the rebel in us. Entrepreneurs in these places are often very pragmatic, feet-on-the-street types who are willing to test and try anything, drive any car and live anywhere. Nothing is beneath them. The Wright Brothers were small town Ohio boys who went to an even smaller strip of sand in North Carolina with a great big idea, tested every assumption, worked with their hands, recruited unlikely talent and ultimately crushed their well-heeled Washington, DC-based competition. My advice – if you’re in a smaller area, play to your strengths. You can’t beat the valley at its’ own game, but you can play a different game.
7. Coworking/shared office spaces will wane.
I call this the “introvert re-awakening”.
Shared working spaces are all the rage and nice for helping startups get going, providing good economics, collaboration, etc. However, consider that the very first thing many startup clients want us to do is to sign an NDA. Obviously, secrecy is important to them! Also, almost every introvert I talk to (and most engineers fit that category) wishes they had more privacy at work. Lacking that privacy, these team members tend to subconsciously “look busy” rather than focusing on thoughtful production. And finally, there is politics: I was in an office of a business partner recently where we couldn’t speak candidly about a technical problem because the problem’s creator happened to be another company which was right around the corner in the same room of a shared workspace. Open space is great and every office should have some, but privacy is also natural and its’ returning.