Finessing the age of parsimony

By Tony Patterson, SCAN’s editor and CEO

t-patterson.jpgFaced with the flight of vencap and the collapse of markets, what are high tech startups to do? There is but one mantra for the looming age of parsimony, and it is self-reliance. They will do what they must in order to survive and succeed.
Entrepreneurs will look more to themselves, to mining and adding value to their own resources. They will be more creative, think more sideways and look more to where opportunity is going than to where it has been or even where it rests today. They will learn from one another, from the local entrepreneurs who have built companies with modest amounts of capital into world-class competitors by providing great services and the products to enhance them. As Andrew Waitman wrote recently in his SCAN column, "We need to understand and learn from these examples, and celebrate their success, because they show the way to the future for Ottawa’s next generation of high technology entrepreneurs . . ."

Successful high tech startups will be more cooperative, helping each other in new ways and tried and true ways. Cooperatives are a Canadian tradition, in fishing and farming, housing and custom retailing. The father of credit unions was a Quebecker, and the institution he founded is one of Canada's major financial institutions today.

Why isn't there a high tech credit union? Why can't the principles of microlending, proven so effective when applied in the developing world, be applied just as effectively to the relatively small needs of startups? Microlending was the inspiration of an individual since honoured with the Nobel Prize. Microlending has helped millions and interestingly enough it has also made millions for the founder of the movement. He also had the sagacity to found the Graneen Bank, which has prospered through its association with the program.

There's never been a better time for businesses to be thinking out of the box, not to mention necessity. For those who can't think that way, the box is likely to be the one they're buried in.

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