The breakneck pace of change in today’s world spares no area of business, including entrepreneurism. Indeed, given swift investment flows and the increasing difficulty in retaining talent, the creation of value by companies is especially foundational to improving society. It’s in this scenario we find ourselves, one in which the figure of the entrepreneur illuminates a world in search of leaders with good ideas and the work ethic to bring them to fruition.
IESE Business School’s current crop of 40Under40 young entrepreneurs, an annual compilation of the top 40 entrepreneurs and innovators under the age of 40 from the school´s 55,000 strong alumni network, highlight the ideas and trends driving innovation and entrepreneurship today. They reveal the big ideas motoring today’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, which should inspire business leaders young and old alike.
A focus on positive impact through thoughtful leadership
Uniting many of the diverse companies launched by these young entrepreneurs is an aspiration to instigate change in society and make a lasting, beneficial impact. According to Virgine Rogé, Founder of Dietox, speaking at a panel related to the 40Under40 honorees in Madrid, “the creation of jobs is still the most important contribution that entrepreneurs can give to society.”
In this sense, the passion of leadership transmitted to employees will make them work better. Happy workers are productive workers, after all. And leadership has a trickle-down effect on all audiences since it is not an issue that exclusively affects a company’s employees. In the minds of a company’s stakeholders, value creation and positive impact are now as important as financial sustainability. Therefore, social entrepreneurship is always about the long-term and never about the short-term.
The importance of talent, and retaining it
At odds with the long-term model of value creation and socially sound business practices is an increasingly volatile labor market picture in which younger employees do not feel as tethered to their companies as they did in the past.
Successful companies have identified this change and, as a result, have focused on talent retention with renewed vigor. “With the new generations, it’s tough to find a way to keep people in the long term in the company,” says Gerald Glauerdt, the co-founder of Lazada Group. As part of addressing this reality, in which energetic and innovative young people can add great value to organizations, companies must bear in mind that talent wants to feel more involved in projects. To that end when it comes to recruiting talent, an organization’s most valuable recruiting brand asset should be its values and culture.
Those values are closely related to the goal of making a positive impact. And instilling a culture of shared purpose, transparent communication and a motivation to work hard that doesn’t rely on intimidation stems from a company’s leader. It might also concern flexibility, whether in terms of remote work options or paid time off. It also has to do with…
…An openness to exploring innovative models and approaches
New problems demand fresh solutions. And innovative entrepreneurism involves dispensing with yesterday’s business models and goals. That’s why a common thread of so many young entrepreneurs is their embrace of change and new paradigms.
Gregoire De Hemptinne founded Shayp, which helps reduce buildings’ water consumption. Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz co-founded Bound4Blue, which develops sail systems to reduce fuel consumption and emissions for more sustainable shipping. And Rahul Jain founded Peach Payments, a payment processor focusing on Africa and other emerging markets.
Establish mutually beneficial mechanisms
Search funds, for example, provide an excellent opportunity to connect young entrepreneurs with experienced investors keen to support them in their first CEO roles. The relatively new asset class has seen impressive growth over the past decade. Booming interest in the asset class has led to an expanding search fund ecosystem and a wider range of investors.
An excellent example of collaboration between young entrepreneurs and experienced investors can be found in search funds. These funds provide an opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs to connect with seasoned investors who are eager to support them in their first CEO roles. This relatively new asset class has witnessed remarkable growth, attracting increasing interest and expanding the search fund ecosystem. While search funds originally emerged in the US, they have gained traction in other regions in recent years, with significant growth observed in Europe and Asia.
As entrepreneurs navigate the ever-changing landscape of the modern world, it becomes clear that visionary leaders armed with good ideas and a commitment to positive impact are indispensable. By prioritizing thoughtful leadership, talent retention, innovation, and collaboration, aspiring entrepreneurs and established business leaders alike can harness the power of entrepreneurship to shape a better world.
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