Challenging Times for the Entrepreneur

This article appears in the July edition of the 2020 Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship newsletter.

By: John Caron

John F. Kennedy once said, “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger — but recognize the opportunity.”

John CaronRecent events will impact us for the foreseeable future and change or disruption, for the entrepreneur, represents opportunity. Old paradigms will be challenged, and “reinvention” will be required. There is not an industry or vertical that will not be impacted: hospitality, healthcare, any supply chain, adaptation of automation and artificial intelligence — the opportunities will be extensive.

Entrepreneurs will need to be creative in solving the challenges before them. You’ll see “maverick activity” as suggested in Sensing and Shaping the Post-COVID Era, an article by the BCG (Boston Consulting Group). Small companies will be taking chances and making bets predicated on new customer needs or behavioral patterns. Of importance, will be discovering “new patterns which reduce friction” (unnecessary delays, costs, complexities, mismatches with needs, or other inconveniences that a customer experiences in using an offering). Entrepreneurs will not only need to listen intently to their customers, but also keep abreast of the competition, and study their analytics to understand what is working and what is not.

It all adds up to tremendous opportunity for those willing to take some educated chances and why the role of the entrepreneur becomes so exciting.  And, that is why I am honored to serve on the Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship’s Board of Advisors and to chair the sub-committee on student engagement during these exciting times.

Let’s make a difference!

About John Caron

John is currently active on several boards of innovative, early-stage companies. He is Board Chair for Tijuana Flats USA, LLC, an Independent Director on the board of IZEA, and an independent Director for Thrive Frozen Nutrition. He is Managing Partner and Vice-President for Entrepreneurs in Action, Inc. (EiA) – a Florida benefit corporation that manages the EiA Social Enterprise Fund I, LLC which invests in start-up/early-stage social enterprises. As a member of EiA he also sits on the board of Rally – The Social Enterprise Accelerator. Finally, he is a member of venVelo, LLC – a Central Florida early-stage venture fund and supporter of the Crummer Rollins Venture Plan Competition.

Previously, John served as President of Olive Garden and was a member of Darden Restaurants’ Executive and Operating Teams. At Olive Garden he led a company with more than 820 restaurants, 90,000 employees and $3.7 billion in annual sales. Over a nearly 30-year Fortune 500 career John has served in numerous domestic and international senior marketing leadership roles.

John is active in the Central Florida community having been appointed by the Mayor of Winter Park to the CRA Advisory Board.

John received an MBA in Marketing from New York University’s Stern School of Business as well as a Master’s degree in American Politics from New York University’s School of Politics. He earned a BA in Political Science from Colorado College.

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