The entrepreneurial game changers of 2015

This has been a huge year of digital innovation, entrepreneurial creativity, and growth in so many different industries. From the emergence of new social platforms that have brought start-up brands almost overnight exposure and success, to the wider embrace of flexibility and work-life balance that has boosted productivity and growth for many small businesses.

Then there are the ambitious tech start-ups that have set their sights on billion dollar valuations, and the rise in popularity of STEM subjects that have given young entrepreneurs the skill sets they need to set up their own businesses. But what have been the milestone events that have change the world of entrepreneurship?

Finance lies at the heart of two of them, the first being the phenomenon known as crowdfunding, in Hamish Pringle’s view, the single most important game-changer for entrepreneurs in 2015.

Crowdfunding

Pringle, a former Director General of the IPA and now strategic advisor to creative agency 23red says: "At a time when conventional lenders are risk averse and have battened down their hatches, the open-sourcing of funding has been a lifeline for start-ups.

"The combination of elevator pitch, instant Dragon's Den, and quick to market is a great liberator. Obviously people are going to get burned – the Zano Drone being a current case in point - but the sums involved aren't life changing, and the bragging rights are invaluable, even if the ship goes down."

Mobile payments

Mobile payments have been another financial game-changer of 2015, both for users and developers, and cannot be overlooked.

Read more: The worst work trends of 2015

With the arrival of the instant digital cash transfer, the days of forgetting your wallet and having to beg a tenner off a friend are over, and while Google and Paypal can claim to have got in there first, and long before 2015, the simplicity, speed and execution of Apple Pay made 2015 the year that mobile payments went truly mainstream.

"It has already transformed the lives of many, and is still in its infancy, so the potential is limitless," says Natasha Guerra, COO of Runway East a community space for innovators and entrepreneurs.

She adds: "While the volume of outlets that accept Apple Pay meant it was always going to be slow to build, its recent adoption of store and loyalty cards is another nail in the coffin for the traditional wallet. So much so that in 50 years time, the concept of 'coins' will be alien to a generation of children."

The Uber 'ethos'

2015 has also been described as the year of ‘UBERfication’. Aside from taking over the streets of the world’s biggest cities, the successful taxi service model has been implemented into many other industries.

Uber’s ‘everyone's private driver’ ethos, has taken personalisation to a new level, with a huge rise in companies that cater to individuals’ needs at the touch of a button, says Piers Chead,  founder and CEO of The Formations Company.

"From cleaning, and brands like Handy.com, to food delivery and the likes of Deliveroo.co.uk, entrepreneurs have had to switch off from global concerns, and instead are capitalising on impatient consumers," he says. "This trend has not only changed the way we go about our everyday lives, but it is changing the way the entrepreneurs are having to think their businesses: coming up with new ways to combine technology and convenience."

Read more: The year of microbusiness

The year 2015 and its impact on entrepreneurship may well be remembered for all of these game-changing trends, but many of those running businesses may remember 2015 for something much more profound, as the year when the recession was no longer an excuse. 

Forgetting the recession

Tech entrepreneur Jonathan Richards, CEO of online HR software start-up breatherHR says: "This was year when optimism returned, growth consolidated, and costs remained low. If a business survived the recession then there’s never been a better time to scale up, if it’s in good shape.  If its not, then they can no longer say ‘it’s because of the economy’."

Equally, he adds, there are no longer any excuses for not starting a business, especially a tech business.

"A good entrepreneur can get a good idea off the ground at really low cost, enabling them to demonstrate potential and even earn money without needing a big capital injection," he says. “If I "hear someone saying that they have an idea and will be looking too raise finance in the next few months my immediate instinct is to question the idea or even the person."

All of which leads the world of entrepreneurship wondering what game changers 2016 will bring...

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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