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Cashing in: What's the new wave of sustainability?

UQ people
Published 4 Sep, 2020  ·  3 minute read

Becoming master of your destiny and helping to influence social outcomes are just two of the attractions of studying a business management at UQ.

American comedian and author Jonathan Winters once memorably said, “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it.”

And this idea of being in control of one’s destiny is something that resonates strongly with Dr Sarel Gronum, Lecturer in Innovation at UQ Business School.

“There are many success stories when it comes to entrepreneurship, but the one thing I tell all my students is this – forecasts under conditions of high uncertainty are dangerous. When you can’t predict the future, you must create it,” Dr Gronum says.

“It’s a different mindset, a move away from relying on often unreliable forecasting. It’s not about finding new opportunities. It’s about creating them.

“You can own the unknown by developing a novel business model using things you control, rather than relying on external factors to fall in place. Changing the dominant logic of how business is done – that’s where the most innovative disruption takes place.”

Dr Gronum opposes the idea that there are ‘secrets’ to success. He believes the attributes, knowledge and processes associated with new venture creation are well-established, accessible and mostly proven.

Yet, it is true to say that constantly questioning convention, adaptability and resilience are prized traits to possess, as is an understanding of your potential client base.

“For younger generations, it’s less about owning ‘things’,” says Dr Gronum.

“Younger generations place more priority on having access to things when they need them. It’s a shift to circular economic thinking, in which the sharing economy is unlocked by mostly digital business models.

“Rent the Runway – where people can rent designer clothes instead of owning them – is a great example of this. Another circular fashion example is ‘thredUP’ who resell quality used clothing.

“Digitisation has made a lot of these new business models possible, but it’s also been about changing mindsets and behavioural patterns to redefine the customer value, as compared to traditional business models in the same industries.”

Of course, another benefit of a digitised sharing economy is that it is also demonstrably better for the planet.

The fewer ‘things’ clogging our wardrobes, cupboards, lounge rooms, garden sheds and roads – and the subsequent reduction of single-use objects – means less wastage and less pressure on the environment.

“With a circular economy, the result is less landfill, fewer synthetics required, a reduction in packaging, in dyes, in water, in carbon emissions etcetera,” says Dr Gronum.

“This new business model not only has economic appeal, but suddenly environmental appeal, which opens up new audiences, new funding sources, and possibly new partners or investors.

“Sharing- and circular economy-related industries, like fashion reselling, are now multi-billion-dollar industries and are turning young entrepreneurs into millionaires.”

Understand the foundations of successful enterprise and emerging trends in customer behaviour with a Bachelor of Business Management at UQ.

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