The Power of Business Ecosystems



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Yulia Stark
Yulia is the President of the European Women Association and Senator for WBAF.

The Power of Business Ecosystems

Sitting by the Christmas tree a couple of weeks ago, contemplating 2020…

Not sure about you, but last year’s resolutions were not really realized.

  • Still need to lose those extra “baby kilos” as the “baby” is already three years old, and the business goals did not quite match the pandemic reality….
  • The business retreats to Bali were cancelled. (Oh gosh, I miss the ocean.)
  • Our international conference in London was postponed.
  • Offline training/networking moved to zoom. #zoomedout…

I asked myself: What did work last year—and most importantly—WHY?

My determination to leverage the heck out of it this year was made.

Last Year’s Success

The “only” success I could be proud of last year, wasn’t even on my Goals List for 2020! (Makes me start questioning the need of a goal-list.)

The crisis pushed us to pivot from offline to online, connecting our international network of professional women on one digital platform, making networking work for our members. That’s how the European Women Association was born. Out of necessity.

I remembered my business mentor said one day: “Yulia, in crisis people buy what they need, not what they want.” I realized that many businesses survived last year by creating a need, not a want. And—to my humbled opinion—I see future in collaboration and growing ecosystems. Luckily that’s a trait many women embody.

Business Ecosystems are our focus this year!
— But what is a Business Ecosystem?

A business ecosystem is the network of organizations—including suppliers, distributors, customers, competitors, government agencies, and so on—involved in the delivery of a specific product or service through both competition and cooperation.

The idea is that each entity in the ecosystem  affects and is affected by the others, creating a constantly evolving relationship in which each entity must be flexible and adaptable in order to survive, as in a biological ecosystem.

Ecosystems create strong barriers to entry for new competition.

The Business strategist  James Moore  wrote an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review   Predators and Prey: A New Ecology of Competition, saying that successful businesses are those that evolve rapidly and effectively. Yet innovative businesses can’t evolve in a vacuum. They must attract resources of all sorts; capital, partners, suppliers, and customers to create cooperative networks.

Covid-19 taught us that economies change rapidly. Technology and increasing  globalization  have changed ideas about best practices, and the idea of a business ecosystem is thought to help us understand how to thrive in this rapidly changing environment.

So, this is the theory…and we decided to put it into practice.

Photo by: Hannah Busing

Let’s Unite

On a smaller scale, under an umbrella of a non-profit organization, called EWA, European Women Association:

  • Our goal is to unite the key stakeholders, for us these are other professional organizations with their communities, all contributing to more sustainable businesses for our members.
  • By uniting our communities, our resources, people and knowledge, we are increasing our competitive advantage. Creating strong  barriers to entry  for new competition.
  • Being part of an ecosystem provides opportunities for each partnering organization, where they can organically grow their own community through the larger reach of the ecosystem.

So, by sharing our strategy with you, my aim is to inspire you to look beyond the competition and unite your forces.

The Power of Your Network

All that we have created in a truly short period has been through the strong professional network we have been building in the last ten years.

Next month I will share some practical tips about the power of having a network and how to leverage it through building and nurturing mutually beneficial relationships.

Thank you for spending your time with me reading this article—truly appreciated.

Yulia Stark
President of the European Women Association