How Tiktok redefined entrepreneurship in 2020 by Mollie Parsons
Mollie Parsons explores how the controversial app Tiktok has pushed the boundaries of entrepreneurship, changing the game in 2020.
For those of you who avoided the lure of Tiktok during lockdown, I salute you. I will, however, fill you in
with how the social platform works. The algorithms use your engagement to provide you with relevant content to your interests. My page quickly filled with puppies, Ratatouille the Musical (Google it, you’re welcome) and… a sudden powerful emergence of small entrepreneurs, exploiting one of the few opportunities that the pandemic has given us.
The fallacy in the framework
In academia there is a very objective summary of the entrepreneurial characteristics;
1. Passionately seek new opportunities
2. Pursue opportunities with great discipline.
3. Pursue only very best opportunities.
4. Focus on the execution of ideas.
5. Engage with energies of everyone in their network.
(McGrath,R. and Macmillan I, 2000).
Yet, I would argue that until now there has been a misconception, a presumption, that an entrepreneur’s 5 characteristics are accompanied by an intense desire for power, money or more likely, both. Until now.
Amongst the chaos of 2020 there has risen a group of millennials and Gen Z youngsters that have used digital platforms to start or expand their entrepreneurial domains. I would like to clarify here, that although impressive in their own right, I am not referring to “Social Media Influencers” as such, but those who have exploited the reach of online platforms as an engaging marketing tool to promote their business. The people who have utilised Tiktok as a multi-purpose tool; to facilitate PR with brand collaborations, as an editing tool for marketing campaigns, and as a medium through which to communicate with their consumers. Following in the footsteps of prominent digital entrepreneurs such as Grace Beverly, owner of fitness brands TALA and Shreddy.
'the taste of autonomy'
This new breed still holds up against the academic ‘ticklist’; their creativity, innovation and passion still drive opportunistic decisions. Pride and enjoyment are engrained in the goods and services they offer and ultimately they are fuelled from the energy of their customers - fuelled by the energy of the people who interact with their content. But more than that, I believe a large number of them are fuelled by the taste of autonomy that they have felt in a time that has de-coupled the notion of economic success and ambition more than ever before. A world in which there is this aggressive hunger for money and power there is also a passion for autonomy, and the ability to work in a way that enables family time, daily walks and learning new hobbies. Ultimately, there is this new desire for a job that allows people to carry on with all the things they learnt to love in lockdown.
Now, some would argue that this new era of digital entrepreneurs is inferior. They are incapable of spotting a good opportunity because they’re too busy mindlessly scrolling through social media. I would argue that anyone who exploits a platform with the reach that TikTok can provide, is perfectly capable of cashing-in on the very best of opportunities. They are investing their time into a platform that is used daily by 15% of the US population, that has been downloaded more than 2 billion times, and that has 7.2 billion views of #entrepreneur content (Wall Street Journal, 2020). If you’re still not convinced, watch the video below to witness how a small company, Jemuzi Jewellery, exploded with orders after they shot to fame with one hit video that received over 7 million views.
In essence, whilst outsider opinions may hold some truth there is no reason to demean the platform that has become a playground for diverse, young entrepreneurs.
The entrepreneurial mindset : strategies for continuously creating opportunity in an age of uncertainty / Rita Gunther McGrath, Ian MacMillan (2000)
TikTok launches platform to help small businesses through coronavirus pandemic recovery | This is Money
Why TikTok Has Become a Launchpad for Today’s #Entrepreneur (wsj.com)
I think the only way I can really describe Mollie, and do her justice, is by calling her an enigma in the most chaotic, high energy sense of the term. I met Mollie in first year but it feels like a lot longer and in many ways I can't imagine my life pre-mollie, without her amazing baking, tolerance for alcohol and the ability to cry at almost any film. (Warning Mol, you won't like the next bit)
But she's also an enigma because of this amazing balance in fun and sensibility. Her commitment, her attitude to life and her ability to really give someone perspective. All things that I thought I was pretty good at until I met Mollie. That conversation in the living room at St. David's was the slap around the face I needed Mol and I still appreciate that deeply. Thank you.
Not only a smart cookie, Mollie as I mentioned is an amazing baker and you can drool over her amazing bakes here: @mols_bakes and she's currently completing a (not so) year abroad as pat of her Economics and Geography degree at the University of Exeter.