The “Old World”

I enjoy an espresso (or beer or glass of wine) at a café beside a cobblestone street as much as the next person. But those experiences are often a byproduct of business – not the core of it.

In reality many of the most compelling business opportunities in the world today are in developing and emerging markets. (And don’t get offended.  There are many charming experiences in many emerging markets too, although the pace is more frenetic and the conditions sometimes not quite as congenial – but changing rapidly.)

After all, business is about creating value – and leisure is about appreciating it.

So “Old World” is a great expression on several levels.  It conveys the depth of history and experience, but it also conveys attributes that oppose entrepreneurial business growth.  These include:

  • Unfavorable (aging) demographics
  • Sclerotic bureaucracy and regulation
  • A traditional (conservative) approach to business opportunity

Like all generalizations these are too broad, but sometimes there’s instructive value in broad generalizations.  They help to frame alternatives.

Pope Francis I –  and the New World alternative

pope francis catholic church emerging marketsNow we don’t do religion or politics here.  This is a business blog.  So let’s look at the “business” side of this bold decision by the Catholic Church.
Quite simply it’s “customer base” in the “Old World” was stagnating.  It made the only responsible more it could make – it is reaching out to the emerging markets that will drive it’s growth over the next several decades.

And what’s gratifying to observe is the almost universal joy, excitement and optimism that the decision has engendered.  Surely some debate an individual’s qualifications and philosophy, and the old world may lament losing its primacy, but generally reactions support a pragmatic move justified by current trends.

Cognitive disconnect

But here’s the rub.  While almost everyone “gets it” – or understands that the Catholic Church made a sound decision, they turn back around to their email inbox without ever considering that they face precisely the same conditions in their business.  But 95% of American businesses are too conservative to take the sensible step that the Catholic Church has taken.

Imagine that!  Here in the US, the supposed crucible of entrepreneurial vigor; the laboratory of business strategy;  the avant-garde of innovation….instead we focus on trying to bludgeon a competitor to gain a point or two of market share.

Are we nuts? Isn’t that the quintessence of Einstein’s definition of insanity?  To continue to do the same things but to expect different results?

How will that produce 10-20% annual growth for most companies?

Simple choice

If you want your business to remain really relevant (not just sustain, but to thrive) over the next decade you have to go where the growth is.  Study after study shows that is in emerging markets.  Are they all risk free? No.  Are they all appropriate for your product?  Without even knowing your product I can answer…No.

But for many American companies the opportunities are enormous.  A strategy drawn upon expertise simultaneously accelerates success and mitigates risks.

So if you’re wondering whether you can be as wild and crazy as the Catholic Church; whether you can live on the edge; whether you want to go where the growth is….then call us.  Let’s talk.

photo from theguardian