The Future is Entrepreneurial.
“65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist” – World Economic Forum, January 2016 Future of Jobs Report
This stat really sums up the reason why I decided to title this article “The Future is Entrepreneurial”. The most in-demand occupations or specialties we have today did not exist 10 or even five years ago. We live in a day and age where Schumpeter’s theory of creative destruction is consistently proven right in the job market. The rate of change is too hard to fathom. It is really not surprising that a study from the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University estimates that 40 percent of today’s Fortune 500 companies on the S&P 500 will no longer exist in 10 years. This is why in every conversation I have had lately with partners at big companies or some of my fellow students, I have made the case for a future that is strictly entrepreneurial. Entrepreneur should, and I believe will (maybe not officially), be the only “job” title in the future. Let me elaborate.
I would like to first start by defining the word entrepreneur. The word entrepreneur comes from the 13th century French verb entreprendre, meaning to do something or to take on something. In my opinion, an entrepreneur is, at the very basic, someone who takes on new initiatives. It is someone who is proactive about finding new problems, and solves those problems by creating innovative ways to do so. Whether it is by bringing electricity via solar energy to millions of households in Africa (Akon) or helping fight global warming via the creation of sustainable vehicles (Elon Musk), all entrepreneurs have one thing in common: they innovate and solve problems. Being an entrepreneur is having a mindset that forces you to consistently challenge the status quo. It is a mindset that really pushes you to find problems worth solving, and go solve them. This mindset is what distinguishes entrepreneurs from people in other disciplines. This mindset, while really helpful in today’s world, I believe will become crucial to succeed in the next 5 to 10 years.
With the rise of artificial intelligence, comes the rise of the proactive leader – the one that consistently seeks to learn new knowledge and improve his or her cross-domain thinking skill. We will witness a survival of the fittest mechanism where in order to distinguish yourself from the crowd, you will have to be able to do something that the AI cannot do as well as a human. This can either be finding a way to implement basic universal income, or creating something that helps alleviate the depression problem created out of the jobs lost. I do not necessarily picture an entrepreneur as someone who opens a new business. As per the French verb, I only define the entrepreneur as someone who is proactive and consistently looks to solve the world’s problems – whether that is through a business or art.
I am writing this in the aim to inspire my generation and the next to become passionate about entrepreneurship. As 65% of the next generation will work in new jobs that do not yet exist, I believe my generation and the next one will be the ones affected therefore we should be the ones dictating what those jobs will be. The only way to do that is by being an entrepreneur. Instead of focusing on how to master the skills needed for the jobs that are available today, I believe we should focus on how to create new fields and becoming masters of those fields. As 40% of today’s F500 companies on the S&P500 will will disappear in the next 10 years, we should not primarily focus on how to join those companies. Deciding to do so is choosing instant gratification. We should instead focus on the long-term gains that we can make by building a future that we want. We need to push for creativity – we need to become absolute creators. We will not have a choice but to be creators in order to succeed in the new economy. However, a more creative economy will not suddenly appear. It will have to emerge from what I call “creative cooperation groups”. Those are the groups from where the new entrepreneurs will emerge.
Creative cooperation groups are groups that share new and exciting solutions to existing problems with each other, and help each other better execute on those solutions. Those groups will come together for specific problems and dissolve after their resolutions. Some of those groups of individuals will eventually stick together for next challenges. Those groups will be predominant in the gig economy toward which we are evolving. They will come together to solve bigger and harder problems. To be part of those groups you will need to have a high EQ, be creative, and have a strong desire for taking new initiatives and solving problems. Not fulfilling those requirements will put you at risk. Creativity and proactiveness will be a necessity for survival.
In this world that I am envisioning, creatives and innovators will completely take over. Opportunities will be scarce for those that can only achieve excellence in their technical ability. Individuals will need to be extremely versatile, and pivot really hard when necessary in order to succeed. With a world where AI will take care of accomplishing tasks for low-skilled and some high-skilled jobs, there will only be room for those that know how to practice the art of entreprendre.