In these uncertain times, entrepreneurs are heroes.

What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? Let me define it.

  • You’re passionate about a problem, the more ambitious the better
  • You see an opportunity
  • You figure out a new approach – that’s innovation
  • You gather the resources and support you think you need
  • You take a calculated risk
  • You work hard throwing everything you’ve got at achieving your goal
  • If it doesn’t work the first time (and it rarely does), you iterate, pivot, or give up

It’s not complicated, but really hard to do if you’re afraid of the unknown, or don’t have the means to take risks. Uncertainty is the entrepreneur’s natural habitat.

We all can be heroes.

Entrepreneurs are heroes
Dave Moskovitz, Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network NZ.

What are NZ’s heroic superpowers? Our Kiwi values.

  • We’re in this together
  • Empathy, or as Jacinda says, Be Kind
  • We’re a team of 5 million
  • Everyone gets a fair go
  • We’re creative and resourceful
  • We’re resilient – we know how to pull our socks up, work hard, and get on with the job
  • We have “Goldilocks” scale – our size is not too big and not too small, it’s just right.

Our government used these superpowers to conquer COVID, when others said it couldn’t be done.

The challenges that still remain ahead now call on us all to become heroes.

According to the Kauffman Foundation, entrepreneurs are the source of nearly all new jobs in the economy.

There is a lot of economic pain on the horizon. Many people will lose their jobs.

Some industries will never be the same, and in some cases that might be a good thing. For example, there’s a lot of grieving for tourism at the moment, and while I’m gutted for the people in the industry who will have to adapt, our tourism industry was not built on sustainability, and relies on low-paying jobs. We can and must do better.

We need entrepreneurs to build the next economy, built on true value-add and sustainable principles. We can all be entrepreneurs. We can all be heroes. We can all find opportunities and use our life knowledge and sixth senses to find new ways of doing things. We’re a team of five million. We can do things we’ve never done before.

Even if you don’t like taking risks, you can still support entrepreneurs that are building the new New Zealand. You can build with your attention – every conversation you have is a doorway to the future. You can build with your wallet – every dollar you spend is a downpayment on the future. You can build by encouraging and supporting others.

The most important thing is to do something – have a go. The only thing stopping us is fear of the unknown. We may be in the riskiest environment ever right now, making everyone a risk taker. The stakes have never been higher. People and Planet hang in the balance.

The hero’s journey starts with each one of us. What change do you want to make? What change do you want to be? What risks are you prepared to take? Together, what can’t we do? What can’t we become?

We stand at a unique inflection point in history. At some point in the future, we’ll look back and either celebrate or lament the decisions we made right here right now. Let’s make the most of this opportunity.

If not now, when?

[Abridged from an address to the Let’s Build Back Better conference in Wellington, 3 August 2020, organised by Diplosphere and the British High Commission.]

Dave Moskovitz is Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network NZ, an active startup investor and company director and co-author of the New Zealand Entrepreneurship Manifesto 2020.

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