Celebrating entrepreneurship and shining a light on 5G for innovation
Had Small Business Saturday existed back in 1876, I’d like to think it would have celebrated Lars Magnus Ericsson, our founder, who started out in his workshop doing repairs and undertaking small mechanical engineering jobs. And now look at the size of the business and what’s grown from those humble beginnings!
Of course every business starts small. And in the UK, we get the chance to shine a light on such entrepreneurs on Small Business Saturday, taking place this year on December 5. This annual initiative was started by American Express back in 2010, in the midst of the recession.
Ten years on, it feels even more relevant as so many small businesses have gone through an exceptional set of challenges this year. I’m a huge fan of small businesses. I admire their spirit and I know that they often lead the way when it comes to creativity, innovation and thinking differently.
I believe startups and small businesses around the world have such an important role to play in the economic recovery post-pandemic. Their fresh thinking is just what we need to inspire us all.
Innovation fuelled by tech
Passionate about how technology fuels entrepreneurship and innovation, I’m always on the lookout for great examples of technology that enhance the customer experience.
Revolut is one of my favourites. It’s such a simple and effective app for solving the headache of international currency exchange. Revolut was founded in London in 2015 by Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko to create a simple solution to help travellers exchange currency easily and avoid expensive fees. I love it!
Moneyhub’s CEO Sam Seaton is another entrepreneur who I admire. Her open-banking platform helps people get more from their money by providing them with an overview of their entire financial world. Sam’s company is also doing great work in promoting financial wellness.
I like to stay close to entrepreneurship and always enjoy my conversations with business owners and innovators. We can learn a lot from them: how to encourage and stimulate thinking differently, stay customer-focused and develop/prototype new product ideas.
The 5G opportunity
And now there’s a new opportunity for innovation - 5G. At Ericsson we’re really excited by 5G and how that will be a game changer for innovation and entrepreneurship.
I know that when it comes to 5G, it’s easy to underestimate the potential it brings. Because it’s more than just another G! That’s why at Ericsson we’re on a mission to educate the marketplace, letting service providers and businesses realise the difference 5G will make to them.
Our Consumer and IndustryLab deliver world-class research and insights on markets, innovation and consumer trends. My colleagues in Sweden, Anders Erlandsson and Cristina Pandrea, have been doing important work highlighting just how much this new technology will open up business opportunities.
So how will 5G impact entrepreneurship? There are two key ways. One, it can revolutionise how a business is run, from taking payments to cloud connectivity. But what I find really exciting is what it can do to enhance the customer offering. Super-high-speed data creates a host of new opportunities. Providing businesses with access to top-class digital connectivity enables greater innovation in emerging technologies. From in-car entertainment to mobile commerce and augmented reality gaming, there are so many new product applications.
What’s more, 5G has the potential to aid economic recovery by increasing opportunities in rural communities, digitally connecting entrepreneurs and fuelling business growth.
Making it real
To demonstrate its impact on commerce, Ericsson has launched its Startup 5G program. Here we can see 5G in action: a collection of startups who are already innovating new products over 5G by developing scalable services, devices and applications. The program hosts a variety of innovative companies from across the world and is continuously expanding. It’s a great initiative for bringing 5G to life and showcasing the work of innovative startups.
A platform for innovation
At this year’s World Economic Forum annual meeting our president and CEO Börje Ekholm spoke about how 5G will be the foundation for innovation in, what he billed, the Fourth Industrial Revolution. “While we know that 5G will bring significant change, we still don't know how - we cannot predict what the innovators of the world will do with it,” he said.
And that’s the exciting part for me: how 5G will change the business landscape and fuel economic growth in ways beyond our current reality. Right now in apartments and coworking spaces around the world, I am sure there’s the next generation of early stage innovators and entrepreneurs, coming up with business ideas around 5G. That thought really energises me!
So this Small Business Saturday let’s champion entrepreneurship in all its forms. Of course, it’s small businesses that are the lifeblood of our communities. From the business owners who’ve had to innovate new customer experiences to the pioneering work in laboratories around the world, entrepreneurial spirit has come to the fore in 2020. And at the same time the coronavirus crisis has given many small businesses an unprecedented opportunity to adopt digital technologies.
So this weekend and beyond, let’s do what we can to support small businesses - maybe somewhere out there is the next Lars Magnus Ericsson!
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