Entrepreneurial Sustainability: Building New Markets

Ervin “Magic” Johnson was perhaps one of the greatest NBA players from my generation.  Watching the Lakers battle the Celtics became an American obsession.  Johnson, who was the floor general for the L.A. Lakers (aka “Showtime”), always performed well in big games.  His list of athletic accomplishments could fill a phone book. 

Yet, it’s Johnson’s off-the-court behavior that is a benchmark for individuals who search for sustainability in business.  Being a visionary and a doer, Johnson found opportunities in underserved areas where most traditional businesses would not pursue. 

Johnson explains, “I am grateful for my experience as an athlete. Yet the rewards of my entrepreneurial endeavors have been even more fulfilling. I’ve learned that creating jobs and providing goods and services to urban communities beats even five NBA championships.” In fact, he has used his economic power to leverage economic development in urban depressed areas. Therefore, he has become a social change agent.

In his book, 32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business, Johnson explains how he developed his entrepreneurial mindset. The book provides practical advice on starting, financing, marketing, growing a business, and capitalizing on market opportunities.  Clearly, Johnson went against the grain and showed that lucrative markets are not all abroad. Like Johnson, today’s businesses will need to explore more market opportunities. Entrepreneurs inject creativity and innovation for greater profitability. In fact, they seize market problems and turn them into opportunities.

Robert Hisrich, Michael Peters, and Dean Shepherd, authors of Entrepreneurship, argue that while business owners take risks on new markets, entrepreneurs understand how to exploit these risks to their advantage.  They note, “Though many individuals have creative new ideas, few can bring their ideas to the market and create new venture. Yet entrepreneurship and the actual entrepreneurial decisions have resulted in several million new businesses being started throughout the world.”

Social media platforms such as Youtube.com may be the next frontier for entrepreneurs.  For example, Facebook now seeks to capture more of the small business market.  With 750 million users, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg notes that 9 million of the nation’s 30 million small businesses are using Facebook to communicate with their customers.  Sandberg explains, “I think every small business should…be using Facebook. We’re not going to stop until all of them are using it to grow their businesses.”

Currently, small businesses use free Facebook pages to communicate with their customers. However, Sandberg argues that Facebook services can offer more to small businesses: “Facebook takes word-of-mouth marketing and makes it work at scale.” 

Facebook will launch a plan to attract more small business advertisement by offering a free $50 advertising credit to approximately 200,000 small businesses.  Like Magic Johnson and Facebook, today’s managers need to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit and search for new market opportunities.

Describe a potential entrepreneurial opportunity for you over the next five years.  How will you be able to sustain any success given market forces (i.e. Porter’s Five Competitor Forces)? 

 © 2011 by Daryl D. Green                                    

[1] “Facebook wants to be big among small businesses” by Jefferson Graham