What (globally) keeps you awake at night?

I’m really looking forward to social reporting at the World Entrepreneur Summit on March 20, not least because the organisers are doing some honest agenda setting by asking “what is it about the current global situation that keeps you awake at night”?
As you can see from the programme there are some pretty well-informed speakers on managing through challenging times, focussing on sustainability, and accessing finance.
That’s before we get to the Open Space session on “What will the future of Capitalism look like”?
Summit organiser Rebecca Harding has an impressive record as a researcher and writer in the field, and is encouraging anyone interesting to take the survey here. In true entrepreneurial spirit the  “keep you awake” checklist of possibilities:

  • The future of capitalism
  • The macroeconomic climate
  • Climate change and environmental destruction
  • Widening inequality between the richest and poorest communities in the world
  • Under-development in Africa

… is presented in the next question as  list of possible opportunities.

I asked Rebecca to open up on her hopes and fears:

1.  What keeps me awake at night?  I’m kept awake by loads of things that I think are bothering everyone at the moment.  In the short term, there’s challenges around contracts, cashflow and profitability that are massive for any entrepreneur without major external growth-oriented finance.  All of these really converge as one thing for the early-stage entrepreneur though: bandwidth.  You don’t have a major cash balance so you are reliant on contracts.  You have to deliver more swiftly and better than your competitors but, because margins are tight, you then have to do the work yourself.  It’s a challenging time – someone was talking to me about their sales the other day and commented, “flat is the new UP!”.
2. What are we hoping to achieve with the Summit in these challenging times?  The Summit is a response partly to our own “credit crunch” and partly to a sense of the Zeitgeist: people want to hear that what is keeping them awake at night is what is keeping others awake too.  They want advice, they want easy routes to mentors and finance, they want to network with a community of peers and to shape the future.  Entrepreneurs are eternal optimists and this event gives them an opportunity to say that the solution is in their hands: they habitually think 3-5 years down the line to what the future holds rather than about the stumbling blocks along the way.  At the moment, though, many of them feel “alone” in their sleeplessness! We will have achieved our goals if we create a community world wide that is creating an entrepreneurial vision of the world that is socially and environmentally sustainable.  If we have helped one or two people solve their day-to-day challenges as well (not least getting to sleep at night) that will be a bonus!
3. Any questions I want to put to myself?  What next? After WES on March the 20th, do we all just walk away, say that was fun and go back to our daily lives?  The whole point of creating a Society is so that people won’t go back into their bunkers after the Summit.  We will have a Forum and will be running Academy training and smaller scale workshops and seminars during the course of the year, including our competition which we will launch at the event to find the world’s Make a Difference (MAD) entrepreneurs – the winners will be at WES 2010. In the end though, this is a membership organisation that must be built from the “Base of the Pyramid” – i.e. it’s members.  In a socially networked world, there is no role for top down membership structures that offer a set “package” to members.  We have the set package of course, but we want to make sure that the members themselves develop a society and a vision of the future that they believe will make a difference in the long term.

You can book your place from the link here , with an option just to make a donation if you can’t afford the prices.
We’ve just started an open social network, where you can join in opening discussions.
I’ll be taking along a couple of cameras as well as my Videoboo setup. If you would like to help me with the reporting in exchange for a free pass, send me an email.

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