2 biggest lessons studying in the USA

I’m currently sitting on a flight to Europe after a quick stop in Las Vegas and completing an amazing 4 weeks of learnings in the US.

Being an entrepreneur we are often too busy working in our own businesses to really block out time to educate ourselves - Aside from the odd conference or bedtime/airplane reading. It was for this reason that I negotiated to take a full nine weeks off to do an executive program in the US (and some well-deserved holidays in Europe) when my technology business was acquired earlier this year.

As was the same with the last executive program I did at Stanford University in 2013, it’s been an incredible experience covering so many different topics. I thought I would share the two biggest learnings I’ve had so far:

Think Bigger

In Australia we basically sit in a bubble, separated from the rest of the world. Aside from the odd success story, we operate in a very isolated environment and our reality of what is possible is limited to what is peripherally visible. We compare ourselves to our local competitors and put a mental ceiling on what is possible.

People in the US think at a scale significantly bigger than those back at home. For context - My roommate on the program is 29 years old and owns an online marketing business generating $45m in revenue and $13m profit per year. Last year he built himself out of the business to start a private equity firm investing in other businesses. He wants to be a billionaire by 40.

As entrepreneurs we need to be asking ourselves more frequently how do we do things bigger. How do we take this global. How do we multiply whatever we are doing by ten. In the words of Steve Jobs, everything in the world around you was created by people no smarter than you. The reason why you can’t be a $45m global business is merely a set of resource-based challenges which if you have persistence, passion and knowledge you can overcome.

Being in this type of environment inevitably sends me back home with a wolf on my back. But you don’t need to have spent $70,000 on a course to tell you that – just take my advice and get cracking.

Business is changing

We are on the cusp of technology disruption unlike anything we have seen before us. It sounds cliché, but business models will live and die so much faster in the next decade. If you are not considering where you fit into this disruption you will be left behind.

AI is only going to accelerate this faster. We were told that Cortana (Microsoft’s voice recognition technology) is now at parity with what a human can transcribe. Driverless taxis are less than 3 years away. The cost of drone technology is halving every year. VR technology will reach a resolution comparable with the human eye in less than 2 years. My questions to you is how are you thinking about business models that take these factors into account? 

You need to choose - will you be the disruptor, or work for the company being disrupted? True disruption is easier when you are a start-up because you’re not weighed down by all the baggage an organisation accumulates over time. The bigger the organisation the harder to strategically shift – look at the bevy of extinct former powerhouses like Blockbuster and Kodak.

This is why Scrappi is so powerful. We bring together seasoned entrepreneurs who are experts in their field and put them in charge of developing these new commercial business models – combined with existing distribution channels, we think it’s a powerful combination. We are betting on the disruptors and you should be too!