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Entrepreneurship is all about finding an unmet need and building a business around it. One can only be in business if there is a product or service that someone is willing to buy. While there is a reduction in the discretionary income of Filipino families, the Covid-19 pandemic is giving rise to many and new unmet needs, and there are emerging opportunities and challenges with the shift in consumer preferences.
The growth of e-commerce and omnichannel platforms results from an increased preference and demand for online transaction and alternative modes for shopping. There is also a rise of proximity retailing. According to a Kantar Survey, 66 percent avoid big malls and superstores as well. Some 86 percent prefer grocery shopping in supermarkets near home. And 66 percent discovered new online stores they want to buy from even after Covid. Survey also shows that 47 percent of consumers expect to retain changed behavior after the outbreak ends.
Home has become the center of life—a dynamic place where work, learning and recreation are situated. Consumers’ primary concerns include family health, access to food and health care, jobs and finances, and mental health. The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said there is increased demand for health products, health boosting goods, soap and sanitizing products, Internet, electronics, bikes and motorbikes. There is a lower demand for durables, non-essentials and tourism and travel.
This pandemic crisis spells opportunities for entrepreneurs who are creative enough to see these emerging needs and wants in a business environment where businesses, big or micro, are in the level playing field. The drive toward survival entrepreneurship, if given sufficient strategic guidance, could lead to the creation of breakthrough products, new age services and resilient enterprises. But there is more into entrepreneurship than just survival. The business idea should be subjected to creative twists and innovative turns.
Creativity and innovation lead to value creation, and in effect differentiate a product or service. They lead to entrepreneurial success.
Ideate to create
Creativity is thinking new things. It is developing new ideas and discovering new ways of looking at problems and opportunities. Creativity involves generating something from nothing. It may also mean putting old things in new ways, or simply creating something better or simpler.
Business ideas are currently abundant to people who can identify the pain-points of the market—an experience which bothers, irritates, disturbs or annoys a substantial market. In the words of Marketing Guru Josiah Go, market-driving strategy explores the unserved market and offers solutions to address these pain-points. It becomes a hurt-and-rescue story where the entrepreneur is the hero, who may live with the customer happily ever after. The market-driving entrepreneurship gives birth to a creative business idea, which is not through the traditional join-the-bandwagon market-driven approach of entering the well-served, and probably saturated market. The pandemic experience has caused so much hurt in our human existence and the creative entrepreneurs shall come to the rescue.
Creativity follows a process. First is preparation, where the entrepreneur explores the problem or opportunity in all directions. The second is incubation, where the entrepreneur engages in a non-conscious way of thinking about the problem. The third is illumination, where there is the flowing of the “aha” eureka idea. And finally, verification, where there is a test of the idea and the creation of the most exact form of the idea. The quarantine experience has been long enough to allow introspective moments to journey an entrepreneurial mind through the creative process. We have come pass the discomfort and the survival zones of the pandemic experience and should now be ready to enter the opportunity and growth zones.
Create to innovate
Innovation is doing new things. It is applying creative solutions to enhance people’s lives. It is labelled as creative destruction, where newly created goods, services or firms can hurt existing ones. Innovation is not the sum but the product of invention and of commercialization. In the absence of either invention or commercialization, there is no innovation. Invention alone cannot innovate unless commercialized and translated to useful and rewarding products. Many entrepreneurs may not have invented anything but have successfully commercialized an invention. Innovation is not just planning new products, services, brand extensions, technological innovations or novelties. It is about imagining, organizing, mobilizing and competing in new different ways. Simply put, innovation is the exploitation of new ideas.
Joseph Schumpeter, in his Theory of Innovation, posits innovation as the changes in methods of production and transportation, production of new product, changes in the industrial organization, opening up to a new market, among others.
Peter Drucker, the Father of Modern Management, identified seven sources of innovation, namely, the unexpected, incongruity, market structure, necessity, demographics, changing perception, and new knowledge. All of these sources are related to the current pandemic experience. The unexpected results from the discovery of something by chance in the process of this unprecedented experience. With the incongruence in the supply and the demand, innovation may be born. The market structure in the new normal will give rise to innovative ideas to respond and adapt to it. As necessity is the mother of invention, it may lead to innovation. The volatility in the demographics of people incites re-imagination of how they live and how products and services will have to adjust to their new habit and emerging lifestyle. Changing perception of the environment and life itself triggers innovations while new knowledge, brought about by the equally disrupting Fourth Industrial Revolution and by the realization of how humanity should co-exist with coronavirus, is a major source of innovation.
The importance of innovation cannot be understated as entrepreneurs set their footprints through the pandemic experience. It is for this reason that the Philippine Business Conference 2020 organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry adopted the theme Innovation@PH to bring innovation at the center stage of the biggest virtual gathering of businesspeople, policy-makers and though leaders in the country. It is free and will happen virtually on October 7 to 8, 2020. Engineer Eunina Mangio, chairman of the conference, shares that the 46th PBC aims to impart innovative solutions to businesses, especially on how they can navigate their ecosystems in this new normal.