The dominant conversation among leaders in all sectors of our society today, whether in business, politics, industry, science or culture, is how "disruption" and innovative organizations, empowered by the Internet, the proliferation of mobile and the exponential increase in computing power, are changing the world.
The World Economic Forum calls it the "The Fourth Industrial Revolution."
The companies behind this Fourth Revolution are the disruptors, like Uber, Airbnb, Netflix and Google. We call them "NewCos."
They are not just changing industries and the economy. NewCos -- and the creative, big-thinking people behind them -- are fundamentally changing the way business is done and, in the process, the way we all live and behave. A "NewCo" is a new kind of organization -- one that measures its success by more than just profit. As the fully networked, information-first economy has taken hold, NewCos are creating game-changing, purpose-driven new models for business.
NewCos are everywhere. Many of them you know. But many others are unknown, working in obscurity on big ideas that will soon be the next to add change to our lives. And they don't only exist in Silicon Valley. They are around the world. Companies like Xiaomi in Beijing, that is redefining the smartphone market, and others that are capitalizing on the open access that all entrepreneurs now have to the tools and technologies they need to succeed.
And they're not just start-ups. An established BigCo that is self-aware, purpose-driven and truly committed to adapting substantively to the changing world can also be a NewCo.
And they're not restricted to tech companies either. Socially progressive organizations such as TOMS or category-disruptors like Tesla Motors are also NewCos.
These are the companies to work for, to invest in, to partner with and to celebrate so that we can all make a difference and change the world for the better.
But what makes them different...really? How do we find out who they are? And, more importantly, how do we learn more about them and the leaders whose visions made them a reality?
That's where the NewCo Festival comes in. It's the brainchild of tech entrepreneur and Wired co-founder John Battelle. Since 2012, he has been showcasing NewCos like Airbnb, Twitter, AltSchool, Google, Medium, TED, PlanetLab, HealthLoop and LinkedIn, first in San Francisco but now across 24-plus cities around the world.
Instead of putting the companies on stage at an expensive conference with bad coffee and rows of "attendees" with their attention on their phones, NewCo brings the participants into the companies' natural habitats, face-to-face with the founders or senior leaders to hear their stories first-hand, to understand their purpose, to find out what really makes them different and how to participate in their success.
If you're a company that wants to help change the world and become a part of the "Fourth Industrial Revolution", then unite with others like Google Canada, G Adventures, Wattpad, soulpepper and Wealthsimple, and consider joining the Toronto NewCo Festival as a host company by clicking here.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
A unique idea might not necessarily be one that no one else has thought of. It could be that someone looked into it and found it was simply not financially viable. Do extensive market research to assess exactly what your competitors are offering, and more importantly, why they don’t offer the things you’d like to. Study published data for quantitative research and get feedback from your potential customer base for a more qualitative analysis. Find out why they would buy into your idea, how much they are willing and able to spend and how often to make your start-up worthwhile.
Just because you’re going it alone does not mean you can operate a business without structure. A business plan is crucial to help you clarify your idea, spot problems, set out goals and measure your progress. It’s highly unlikely that a bank or an investor will consider offering you a start-up loan without one. To find out how to put together the perfect plan, log on here.
Register yourself as a sole trader and start branding your product. The name of your business will be crucial – you’ll need to get a logo designed, print out letterheads, business cards and register the domain name, which means changing your mind afterwards will be a waste of money and time. As well as making sure the name reflects your business and sounds appealing to potential customers, check the name isn’t already taken (or too similar sounding to a competitor). Also check that nothing unsavoury pops up on search engines when you type it in! If your idea is genuinely new, get it patented for free.
Starting a business on your own doesn’t mean you can do it without others. You’ll need to source and build a good relationship with reliable and affordable suppliers, as well as distributors. A start-up also relies heavily on validation, so get to know people whose endorsement will make new customers take you seriously too. And don’t forget, you can be a sole trader and still have partners to help share the load.
Make yourself accessible and approachable from the get go by building a website that’s both professional and personable. Make it is easy-to-navigate, easy-to-understand and easy on the eye. Choose a host that provides quality support, ensure your site loads quickly, and that it works effectively on mobile devices. Find out as much as you can about SEO. Start building up followers and likes on social networking sites as soon as possible, have engaging interactions with them regularly, so by the time you’re ready to launch your product, you already have a loyal base to help you spread the word.
The excitement of starting up your dream business means it’s easy to overspend, but once the novelty wears off, many end up losing both money and heart. Before you start ploughing your loans or your savings into the project, be absolutely sure this isn’t a vanity project, that you’ve assessed the market and your spending well enough to know how you’ll keep your head above water until you’re guaranteed a profit. Don’t skimp on hiring advisors, a good lawyer and accountant will help you get your head around tax and stop you drowning in invoices, receipts and small print.
A solo venture comes with its assurances of stress, so be absolutely sure you have what it takes before you start-up. Do you have the negotiation skills to get the best deals, the communication skills to win people over, a head for figures to ensure you’re on top of your finances? A lot of novice entrepreneurs give up once they start to question their product. How will you handle a customer demanding their money back, or reading a bad review online? A thick skin, the ability to come up with solutions to unforeseen problems and a solid support network are all crucial for those going at it alone.
Follow Brett S Marchand on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BSMarchand