Five business trends entrepreneurs need to know about in 2023
In this guest article, André Coutinho, Co-Founder of GoFw and Ziel and Impact Chair of the London Chapter of Entrepreneur’s Organization, explores some of the most important trends entrepreneurs should be paying attention to over the next year.
The past few years have brought serious challenges to entrepreneurs. COVID-19, the rise and fall of cryptocurrencies, inflation, and Russia’s war in Ukraine have all impacted entrepreneurs in one way or another. But those challenges also brought opportunities. Those who were able to spot gaps in the market saw serious success, even amongst the global political and economic chaos.
People have paid attention to those successes too. It’s no accident, after all, that almost two in three Britons expressed intentions to start their own businesses last year. Even as entrepreneurship becomes increasingly viable for growing numbers of people, however, the events of the past couple of years show how important it is for would-be and existing founders to keep up with the trends currently defining the business landscape as well as those that will do so in the near future.
With that in mind, here are five business trends entrepreneurs need to know about in 2023.
1. The rise of Web3
If you paid attention to the technology space in 2022, you couldn’t help but hear (or read) about Web3. More a philosophy and vision than anything else, Web3 promises to wrest control of the web away from the handful of giant companies that have come to dominate it over the past decade or so. Instead, by bringing a number of technologies (including blockchain, cryptocurrency tokens, and NFTs) to create a truly decentralized web.
Some might suggest that, with both the cryptocurrency and NFT markets having lost their lustre as investment vehicles in 2022, Web3 will have an uphill battle in 2023. But away from the frothy levels of speculation that preceded the crash, the underlying technologies behind them may have a better chance of proving their real value in 2023.
If Web3 works the way its fiercest proponents say it will, it may offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to connect more directly with their customers as well as new revenue opportunities.
2. From greenwashing to sustainable transformation
Sustainability has been a buzzword in the business sector for some time now. Many businesses have, however, been accused of greenwashing – a practice in which organisations use deceptive tactics to persuade the public that their products, aims, and policies are environmentally friendly. Going forward, that simply won’t be enough any longer.
The current energy crisis has sharply illustrated the dangers of talking about moving towards a more sustainable future without actually taking the steps necessary to achieve it. Just as COVID-19 forced many companies to accelerate their digital transformation efforts, so the current crisis may well force companies to embrace sustainable transformation.
There is a significant opportunity for entrepreneurs who can help businesses achieve that transformation, but it’s also incumbent on anyone founding a business in 2023 to bake sustainability in from the start.
3. China reawakens
It’s hard to overstate how big a potential impact China’s ending of its Zero-COVID policy may have. For the better part of three years, the world’s second-biggest economy has essentially been hamstrung. In the medium term, the end of the policy might help alleviate some of the supply chain issues that have plagued the world and helped drive inflation since the initial outbreak of COVID-19. In the short term, however, spikes in COVID as a result of the lifted restrictions may result in fresh supply chain issues.
That said, with quarantine no longer an issue, entrepreneurs may have an easier time looking at prospective Chinese manufacturing facilities or finding suitable goods for import.
4. Embracing super-apps
Speaking of China, the success of apps such as WeChat in that country has helped spur Western companies’ obsession with so-called super-apps. Essentially these apps aim to bring the features of multiple applications into one platform. So, for instance, you might be able to message and interact with your friends, order a rideshare, and buy goods and services from the same app.
In some respects a move in the opposite direction to Web3, super apps are apparently poised to become seriously big business over the next few years. In fact, Gartner predicts that 50% of people will use a super app by 2027.
The benefit for entrepreneurs is that they should be able to easily build mini-apps within these super-apps with little to no technical expertise necessary.
5. Cybersecurity becomes critical
While the collapse in cryptocurrencies has impacted cybercriminals’ ability to monetise their activities, it’s likely that the impact will be short-lived. Indeed, many cybercriminals have simply shifted from ransomware attacks back to malware and corporate phishing scams in the pursuit of hard currency.
That also means they’re more likely to cast their nets wider, increasing the frequency of attacks on small businesses and individuals. It’s therefore critical that entrepreneurs educate themselves on cybersecurity best practise and inculcate a culture of proper cybersecurity hygiene as early as possible. After all, the vast majority of successful cyberattacks are a result of human error.
Adapting to the unpredictable
Of course, the past few years should also have taught us how unpredictable the world can be. So while understanding the impact of the above trends is important, the most important skill any entrepreneur can have (as has always been the case) is adaptability in the face of the unpredictable