Sixty-five per cent of kids starting grade school this year will have a job in the future that does not exist today.

On the surface of it this seems a fantastical stat, yet it is likely that many of us already in the employment market could have a job in just five years that doesn’t exist today. The business landscape is changing at an unprecedented speed, driven by technological advancements consumer demand and favourable start-up conditions.

According to the Kauffman Index of Startup Activity 2016 experienced the highest ever level of new ventures launched with 310 out of every 100,000 adults starting a new business each month. Moreover, the share of entrepreneurs who started businesses to pursue opportunity rather than from necessity reached 86 per cent, more than 12 percentage points higher than in 2009 at the height of the Recession.

Whilst entrepreneurial spirit is strong and rising the hard line is that 90 per cent of new businesses fail to reach their fifth anniversary. Today’s harsh business climate dictates that organizations have two years to survive – simply because this is how long the period of disruption lasts. After this the established companies have had time to assess the market opportunity and roll out the same product if feasible. Just look at what happened to Meerkat and Yik Yak, two of the most celebrated social startups that have subsequently been pushed out of the market by the social media giants launching or buying similar functionality.

To survive the onslaught of aggressive competition having a strong brand is absolutely essential. It is the key differentiator and something that rivals can’t copy; hence the foundation of competitive advantage. But getting it right is a minefield and even the most successful disrupters like Airbnb have publicly said that if their brand strategy was stronger at the start their meteoric rise would have been quicker. 

Research shows that only 10 per cent of entrepreneurs consider brand an essential business function… probably the same 10 per cent that survive past their fifth anniversary.