The networked entrepreneur


Partner to Succeed programmer director Tim Bryant, discusses connectivity, collaboration and Cornwall

Nick Jankel, founder of wecreate opened the recent ‘InterSections’ conference at Eden by declaring “If you have ambition, you need to collaborate”.

Jankel, who prefers to describe himself as a ‘business antagonist’, commented, that a new type of economic landscape is emerging in front of our eyes.

Where there were markets there are now networks, and where there was competition there is now co-creation. But what is causing these changes?

Our need to evaluate and reinvent ourselves following times of austerity is nothing new. The difference following this recession is the abundance of connected-technology available to us all.

Combine these new technologies with the increased social trend to more freely and openly share ideas and information with each other, and we have a very different landscape.

Today, geographically disparate parts of the world are benefitting from a greater ability to effectively ‘connect’ with core metropolitan regions via their online activities. Peripheral regions in the UK, such as Cornwall, are now able to effectively compete online with global businesses on a level playing field.

This huge surge in our collective connectivity has given rise to a new breed of business person: the ‘Networked Entrepreneur’. Chances are that you’re probably one yourself? Consider for a moment; how many business contacts do you have today compared with ten years ago? How many of these business contacts reside outside of the county? How many reside overseas? How many have you met only once, perhaps at a networking event, but you have kept their details?

Business Cornwall itself has successfully adapted and evolved itself to better suit ‘this new type of business person’. The interactive website in particular provides a valuable online platform for ‘Networked Entrepreneurs’ to meet, share information and comment upon new ideas in real time.

In many ways we are witnessing a modern interpretation of the traditional Cornish principles of doing business, where the value is more about who you know as opposed to what you know.

Beyond Networking

Highly successful ‘Networked Entrepreneurs’ don’t just connect with like-minded people, they collaborate with them.

Whilst the internet has provided us all with the opportunity to connect with each other, better connection itself is only the beginning. The online ‘borderless world’ is reflected back to us within our physical workspaces, as traditional departmental and ‘silo-thinking’ is being rejected as redundant.

In their place, agile groups and networks are emerging and collaboration and partnership working will naturally continue to permeate every aspect of our working lives.

A delegate I sat next to at the InterSections conference commented to me following one of the networking sessions and said: “There seems to be two routes that businesses can go down. Do it yourself or collaborate.”

The overwhelming majority of today’s businesses instinctively feel that they want to collaborate, and the Partner to Succeed team have discovered at firsthand the critical success factors that enable ambitious SMEs to collaborate effectively.

As Josephine Green commented in her closing address at the InterSections Conference “We are now at the point where need to engage with the world differently. Our next leap of survival is to co-create, co-operate and collaborate”.

This article first appeared in the April 2011 issue of Business Cornwall magazine