Business is now changing. Presently, some people do not have to be business graduates to be successful businessmen or businesswomen. I am somewhat amazed by a fact where many of my friends now prefer doing business to working for a company. Why do I say many? Yes, because there are a lot of friends of ours doing it. Tata, Fisa, Raca, and Dava are several friends of mine (not the real names) who dedicate themselves in building their own businesses.
Tata is a master degree graduate, he obtained the same master scholarship as mine. At university, he learned psychology at undergraduate and physical education at postgraduate. But, he and his wife decided to run their business of Islamic clothing. Tata once became a lecturer at a private university, but he then quitted, focusing on their startup instead. He told me that he already has three employees and is now looking for a skillful fashion designer.
Fisa is actually my wife’s friend. She and her husband were among the pioneers in online business. Her husband sometimes delivers public training on how to maximize the online shop using SEO and Facebook ads. What I heard, their main problem always relates to human resources. They found that it is not easy to hire a loyal and competent employee. Nonetheless, their business in selling clothing and books is quite progressive.
Raca is my junior at undergraduate. Since she got married and moved to a new town, she decided to focus on her business, selling Islamic female clothing (hijab) through website and online flat form. She gets abundant help from her husband who is an IT expert.
Dava is my classmate at a master degree. She had been doing her scarf business for almost, I think, seven years. When a few days ago I met her, she said that she still runs her business. Instead of being a lecturer, she also decides to expand her business, both online and offline. Besides selling on Instagram, she currently also supplies her products to the three large offline stores in Jakarta.
Based on my personal observation, their decisions in running a business is highly influenced by the advancement in digital technology. Though Facebook is perhaps the pioneer, Instagram has changed the way people doing business and it has got a significant effect on my friends’ businesses. People do no longer look for the product on Google, but they start to search it on Instagram. My wife is a real example. She buys clothing, frozen foods, and others via Instagram. Instagram is more impressive because it provides gorgeous pictures, instead of texts. Surely, nice looking photos often appeal to many Indonesian customers. In addition to Instagram, online marketplaces also become the booster of online sellers and buyers. The number of online seller increases days by days. The competition among online marketplaces themselves is also tight since they want to collect more sellers in their database. Often, they provide free shipping feature so the customers will need not to pay it when purchasing an item. Yes, several online marketplaces get financing from evangelic investors so what they are doing for the moment is burning the cash.
This relatively new business model has several consequences. For example, large department stores are now not a single choice anymore for Indonesian customers. In fact, I heard that some of them had gone bankrupt since they could not follow the trend. Another consequence is the thriving brand ambassador on a platform such as Instagram. The good-looking persons who have many followers have now an opportunity to be celebrities on Instagram, known as Selebgram. Therefore, they prefer to be self-employed instead of being employees at the company.
Indeed, the business model in our society will keep changing in the future. As a lecturer at a business school, I agree that we need to be more adaptive to the changing environment. The curriculum at university should accommodate those who want to be, let’s say, Selebrgam and online business owners. If people also see a tiny role of the university for their success, then this puts a threat to our higher education system. Thus, one question remains, are we universities going in the right direction?