Today’s Lesson: Old Rules Don’t Apply [140904]

With the advent of the internet, social media, crowd-sourcing, and mobile technology, there are more innovative ways to do business now than slow-moving regulators can keep up with.

It is both humorous and frustrating to watch traditionalists resist change. New York City, once known as the hub of business and innovation, now fights new ideas like Airbnb, a service that enables you to travel the world by letting strangers rent spare rooms or couches to would-be jet-setters. The same is true for Lyft and Uber–two services that allow people to rent their cars when not in use. EatWith, another popular service that links up foodies with meals so authentic they are cooked at the chef’s house, is also facing pushback from state regulators.

How do we know the meals are safe (how do you know they are safe at a restaurant…and if your answer is “regulation”, then how do you explain the many cases of food poisoning?)? How do we know people won’t rent rooms for prostitution or to sell drugs (what stops them now?)?

The old rules don’t apply anymore and regulators need to step out-of-the-way or learn to move with innovation and technology instead of trying to stifle it. Being afraid of change is natural and understandable but letting fear cripple you is not healthy. Business is no longer big, bulky, and easy to control. It’s micro-sized and nimble now. It’s Etsy, Pinterest, Kickstarter, and Bitcoin. It is simultaneously local and global, it is a connection economy, and it is growing no matter what.

So today’s lesson is: the way we do business is changing fast. How can we leverage the tools and power of technology, social media, and crowdsourcing to make our lives better and our businesses profitable for the foreseeable future?

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