Tag: advice

10 Questions the Government should be Asking Itself in the 21st Century

 

“Are we prepared to face the new technology that’s springing up?”

We all know that most government thinking is relatively “short-term”. They know that their legislation may only last for four years, and instead of wanting to lay the foundation toward building a great country, they aim for the highest number of ribbons and gold stars with their eyes on reelection.

The big question remains: What is the real role of a government? The obvious answer would be “to run the country in the best possible way to assure that the majority of its citizens have the highest quality of life possible”.

A good leader should really have this keyword etched in stone: “anticipate”. The majority of the problems in Spain nowadays have stemmed from a lack of foresight, of vision, or worse yet, a lack of knowledge. It’s what in the past we used to simply call “having no idea”.

So, what’s done is done. We weren’t able to anticipate the housing bubble, we have been blind to the cracks in the banking sector, the corruption, academic failure, pollution, evictions, and the list goes on. Yet here and now, in 2016, is there really not a single person from any of the political parties that’s seeing the incredible technological change that is taking place? Are we really the few and far between that realize what’s steadily approaching?

Politicians are so blind that they can’t see that within 15 years our society won’t look anything like the model that we know today. Don’t they see the evolution of robotics, of communication, of e-business, of biotech?

They don’t ask themselves how these changes will influence businesses, taxes, culture, or the longevity of citizens. The solution to the problems that we will have in 15 years must be thought out now, not in 15 years. Anticipation and foresight helps us avoid drastic consequences. Of course, not just anybody can simply foresee what will happen in 15 years.

Aside from tackling the current problems in Spain created in years past (the deficit, unemployment, pensions, etc.), here i will also present 10 little questions that the next president of our government should really ask himself.

1. Technology Dependence

How dependent on technology are we? And I’m especially referring to the technologies that the majority of Spanish citizens use and that could grow over the course of the next few years: telecommunications, energy systems, robotics, Internet, etc.

Technology dependence is indicative of the type of country that we will be in the upcoming years, something incredibly important when digital information and digital businesses completely dominate the social landscape.

2. Training

Are we really training our youth to be innovators and to be able to develop business models based around technology? Training is key, and programming and technology competence and knowledge really must be compulsory subjects in school.

3. Our GDP

In the next few years will we be capable of generating at least 15% of our GDP in digital form or based on technology-based businesses? We will be capable of innovating and exporting new business models to instil an image of a “digital” Spain?

4. Taxes

If technology is allowing business to reside wherever they want from a taxation point of view and they can develop their businesses globally, how are we going to stop a few companies from monopolizing certain services in our country while paying taxes somewhere else?

5. Pensions

The tendency in biotechnology is to help us live longer, and it’s no joke. Quite the opposite, the reality could be that in 10-15 years we have the ability to live to be 120 or 130 years old. How is this going to influence our current pension model? What must we do now to compensate for new demographic map that’s going to be created in the next 15 years?

6. Employment

What type of employment will be needed in 15 years? How will we compensate for the automation of certain jobs? You don’t have to be a genius to realize that the profiles of workers are changing. Not only are more tech-laden backgrounds more demanded, but we must also keep in mind that robots will be replacing workers in many cases. A robot doesn’t get sick, doesn’t take vacation, it has a clear price tag and profitability margin for the company and ends up being much cheaper than a human. Anybody who thinks this is science fiction needs a reality check. Robotics is about to take off in many sectors outside of the typical industry, retail, warehouses, and homes.

If we add up the unemployment that will be produced by this to the growth of the population and its longevity we end up with a substantial problem to deal with.

7. Climate Change

How will climate change influence our society and our economy? It’s a huge problem, yet we continue to bury our head in the ground like an ostrich to avoid seeing the true seriousness of the problem and the catastrophic consequences that will be brought about. Think climate refugees, water shortages, agricultural planning, and more.

8. Commerce

How will ecommerce influence our consumer model and our SMEs? Ecommerce still only accounts for a relatively small percentage of our consumer volume, but its growth means that in 15 years it will be a much bigger piece of the pie in terms of our purchasing models.

One of the clearest examples of the evolution of ecommerce has taken place in China and how they have changed their consumer models in the past 5 years. In Spain we don’t have an Amazon, we don’t have a Taobao, and not even a Zalando. There are no ecommerce giants in Spain planning for themselves. Zara could be one, but it is too specialized in only one sector. I hope that El Corte Inglés is realizing that their future could be robotizing 40% of the staff at their points of sale and becoming an ecommerce giant in Spain.

9. Banking

What consequences will digital banking bring about? The digitalization of banking services has its pros and cons. On the plus side, there will be reduced costs for the banks since clients themselves will be able carry out a large portion of banking services themselves.

So far so good, but how will we avoid giants like Amazon, Google, or Facebook from entering into the digital banking scene? For younger people, Google is a thousand times more well known, robust, and trustworthy than BBVA. I am completely convinced that if Google decided to offer a basic service for personal money management tomorrow, thousands of young adults would line up to keep their savings with Google instead of with a Spanish bank.

10. Energy

What influence will the changes to our energy models that are being developed have? It’s clear that oil is not the option of the future, but not because we don’t have it. Rather, it’s the pollution and contamination. If electric energy is going to be our main source, what kind of demand will there be in 15 years? Are electric companies planning for this future demand and are they making the right investments and creating the necessary solutions?

I understand that it is no easy task. My personal advice to the future president of Spain would be to keep an open mind and to surround him or herself with knowledgeable people who have an eye on the future. They must let money and private investment flow into technology innovation and into business and production models. Real, aggressive, and simple tax incentives must be offered to investors that want to invest in technology in Spain. Innovation should become one of the four main pillars of the country. We must design a country thinking about the future that is to come and not only about our present situation.

Our children should not suffer the consequences of us not thinking about their future.

10 Tips for Entrepreneurs:
How to help your Startup Succeed

 

“Always tell investors that they could lose money with the project.”

A startup is a vehicle that many imagine will make them rich, or will at least serve to provide them a stable job. However, it’s no easy path, and success is far from guaranteed. Here are a few pieces of advice to help mitigate the risks that always go along with being an entrepreneur.

1. Focus your idea

Defend your idea tooth and nail, but understand that others may not share that same passion and you will have to explain it thoroughly, adapting your message to each specific audience since not everybody has the same knowledge or experience in the digital or technology sector. Base your idea on something simple and basic, and keep it logical. Don’t worry if there is already something similar or nearly the same out on the market, which is often the case. Look to differentiate yourself from the rest.

2. Become what you want your idea to become

If you want your idea to turn into a business, think like a businessman; if you want your idea to turn into a non-profit project to help improve the world, think like an altruist. You may be able to secure funding in both cases, but have it clear who you are directing yourself to and what you need to tell them without having to hide your goals.

3. Surround yourself with talent

Surround yourself with people who bring something to your project. The team you create is one of the fundamental pillars of success. Looking for talented and committed people is not easy, and you may need to know how to manage different personality types with diplomacy. As a good leader must, aim to keep your team well bonded and excited about the big picture. Don’t be set adrift if your team doesn’t get on well, but rather keep going and find new employees who are excited and motivated to steer your ship back on course. Having to make changes to the staff is not always great, but sometimes the addition of a new team member can be just the spark your project needs.

4. Decide on being a big company or self-employed

Define what exactly you want your project to be, if you decide on it being a business, choose between develop a large company or, on the contrary, if you only want to create something for you and your team to live off of. They are two very different things that require different approaches, tempos, and sacrifices.

5. Take responsibility

Being an entrepreneur is difficult and demanding. A large percentage of entrepreneurs and startups are destined for failure. Understand and assume the risks, be true to yourself and know what you are getting yourself into. You make your bed, you sleep in it.

6. Network

At the beginning of a project you’ll need to wear many hats and take on many different jobs. A good CEO or founder must also be good with public relations and must never underestimate anybody. You never know where the opportunity that jumpstarts your company’s idea into becoming a reality may come from.

7. Choose investors wisely

Investors are 20% interested in your idea and 80% in how you will make money with their money. Understand exactly how you earned your first 10 euros and look for ways to replicate and scale that model that aren’t too expensive. Seek out investors that know exactly what they are looking for and with whom they invest; and though it may sound tough, always tell them that they could lose money taking part in your project. If that frightens them, seek elsewhere. You must accept that there is a high percent chance that your project goes down the drain and your investors lose their money. Not being scared by this thought means they understand the reality of startups.

Seek out investors who will also be your partners and help you grow in every sense of the word and not only give financial support, especially in the seed fund stage. Don’t be afraid of the different funding rounds and the loss of power and ownership. You must understand that whoever puts in the most money should end up earning the most. Be sure that your overall presence and essence as a founder is not lost, and be ready to assert your abilities to lead and manage at all times.

8. Understand the market

Get used to the idea that what you are going to find in the market once your project is up and running may not be what you were expecting. Users won’t respond the way you thought they would and you won’t meet the expectations you had set. Fear not, for it is normal. The market is not easy, and your financial backing and muscle should allow for you to adapt your idea or project as needed to better understand your users or clients and to mold your initial idea into a better, more profitable business plan.

9. Be patient

It’s a complete lie that in a startup everyone gets rich, strikes gold, or becomes a millionaire in just one year. It is incredibly difficult to become a millionaire with a startup. Never start a company with this idea- you will be going down the wrong path right from the very beginning. Try to keep the excitement, the creativity, and the tenacity alive at all times and forget about becoming rich, but rather maintain the idea that if things go well you will be able to make an honest living off of your project and be proud of what you have achieved. Making it to the one year mark with any startup is an achievement in itself, and three is a miracle. If you make it to four, you’ve really done it.

10. Give back

If you are one of the chosen few that genuinely succeeds and makes a killing, don’t forget about all those other entrepreneurs out there who, like you were, are still trying to make a living with their ideas and dreams. It’s your turn now to become an investor and to help create wealth.