Being an entrepreneur has never been more rewarding than in this day of mobile permeation and cheap technology. Mobile usage has allowed entrepreneurs to discover what potential consumers really need and invest their skills in launching companies that can truly make a difference in people’s lives.
We have seen several industries altered by digital disruptors, but it’s not all easy sailing in established industries. For example, Uber, a mobile application that allows consumers to book a taxi driven by its owner and pay through the application, has outraged the metered taxi arena so much that protests have erupted nearly everywhere the application has been launched - South Africa included. Howev,er the healthcare and agricultural industries are ripe for some disruption.
Large corporations in the industries suffer from over-employment and low productivity, while they are also constantly under siege by consumers who are accustomed to getting what they want. These organisations are struggling to innovate because of their traditional and long-standing company cultures, which makes it that much easier for small businesses to pop in with their unique offerings.
But how do you get started in these industries?
1. Be aware you are entering a jealously-guarded industry: even your potential customers are traditional and protect their secrets zealously. Farmers, for example, are wary of sharing information on crop outputs and best practices - after all, this information is what has made them successful. You will have to learn how to navigate these stormy waters.
2. Don’t be afraid of regulation. Many start-ups are intimidated by agriculture and healthcare’s red tape, but these regulations are only a stepping stone to a greater understanding of the business you wish to start, and could tip your competitiveness.
3. Find people and organisations who are start-up friendly - this means they’re open to sharing ideas, energy, and even finance, and who are able to show you how to get your product into the market.
4. Realise you won’t be able to get into the industry without playing well with the established giants. Your offering in healthcare or agriculture is working from a point where the market is already saturated with big players - it’s not as though you’re working in an arena that hasn’t been around already, and this is where social media giants like Twitter and Facebook were lucky. You aren’t so lucky and you’ll have to work with the big wigs to get anywhere.
5. Settle down for the long haul. Starting a business as it is takes many years and lots of patience, but with healthcare and agriculture, the effort is greater - not only because of regulations, existing big players, and long industry cycles, but also because of resistance from consumers and other players.
6. Accept that you have to be adaptable: open to others’ knowledge, ideas, and suggestions, and to change. Your idea might be good as is, but it might not work unless you do it in a way you don’t know about yet.