Entrepreneur Compass

Challenges for the decade ahead

As an entrepreneur, you tend to spend all your time managing day-to-day operations. There’s little time for strategy. Yet as the world emerges from COVID-19 and inflation spikes, the 2020s are likely to be challenging. For that reason, we have written this report – in the hope that it will help you to think ahead to the issues you might face.

How did we select which five challenges to focus on? We canvassed entrepreneurs, as well as other thought leaders and industry practitioners to discover which they thought would be the most pressing. Specifically, the five challenges we investigate are: 

Supply Chain

Supply chain

While the COVID-19 pandemic may be fading, its impact on supply chains will be longer lasting. The supply shock that started in China, and the demand shock that followed as the global economy shut down, exposed supply chain vulnerabilities. The challenge for companies now? Make supply chains more resilient without damaging competitiveness.

Managing complex supply chains often requires entrepreneurs to hire supply chain professionals – particularly at a time when increasing automation puts a premium on specialist expertise. Beyond hiring a professional, our report highlights five broad ways to improve supply chain performance, effectively increasing your business’s growth potential.

The entrepreneur’s view:

“To create a herbal liqueur of the highest quality, we therefore understood even from early on that it required a perfect harmony of ingredients and that we would have to depend on others to achieve our goal – first and foremost, our global network of suppliers.”

Conte Niccolò Branca
President and Managing Director, Gruppo Branca International

How UBS navigates the challenge:

“During the pandemic, we faced additional challenges as we needed to enable our teams to work remotely. Because of the disruptions, we also had to source quickly and sometimes locally. But we were able to manage these challenges effectively by leveraging strong vendor relationships, and rapid go to market with alternative sources of supply identified.”

Bhavna Rai
Head of Supply Chain Sustainability & Regional Procurement, UBS

Crisis resilience

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic fades in many countries, so geopolitical instability has returned to Europe. Even before the pandemic era, the 21st Century had seen the Dotcom Crisis, Global Financial Crisis and escalating extreme weather events. In the minds of some commentators, the regularity of crises results from an interconnected world without circuit breakers. For entrepreneurs, crisis resilience will become increasingly important.

Depending on the type of crisis and its severity, the commercial impact for the business may be more or less acute. What’s more, different sectors and businesses can be affected to varying degrees. When crisis strikes, the more resilient your business the better.

The entrepreneur’s view:

“Personally, I have a lot of resilience data points to reference when my world is falling apart. Surviving the experience of hiking in Alaska in waist-deep snow during the ultra-crazy hard endurance race IDITAROD – a 1,000-mile dog sled race completed on foot – is one example. When I reach my breaking point, I can refer to one of these past resilience data points in my mind and often muster enough fortitude to continue pushing. I know that if I could get through such a tough moment then, I can get through this crisis too. It’s all about perspective and mindset.”

Joe De Sena
CEO and founder, Spartan Race

“Going through crisis is part of the game. It will only be a matter of time before you have to ride one out. At the end of the day, minimizing the impact of disruptions to your company’s financial health during a crisis is a balancing act. On the one hand, it’s crucial that you remain agile and ready to react quickly to challenges in real time. On the other, it’s important to have systems in place that continuously strengthen the company’s financial resilience well before a crisis hits.”

Alvin Abednego
Director of Sales and Marketing, Royal Corporation

How UBS navigates the challenge 

“During crises, communication is key. Leaders must communicate transparently, frequently and clearly. Be urgent but take the time to gather enough information first to provide transparency and a level of confidence that the company is in control. Reassure your clients and employees, but make sure you’re not unintentionally misleading them. Be realistic yet positive,”

Marsha Askins
Group Head Communications and Branding, UBS

Diversity, equity and inclusion

After protests intensified against racism around the world in the summer of 2020, a turning point was reached. Arguably this was when momentum towards greater diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) became unstoppable. Indeed, being a diverse and inclusive workplace is becoming a prerequisite for attracting talented staff.

Yet advancing DE&I is no small task. Our report reviews five ways to do so as your business grows. 

The entrepreneur’s view:

“It is intrinsic to our team to focus on what people can do instead of what they cannot do. We believe that everybody has talents. And that really makes a big difference.”

Ton Goedmakers
CEO, Vebego

“I think most people and professionals are motivated by diversity because this is where they get new ideas and views. Innovation is born from the exchange of ideas, information and values.”

Urška Sršen
Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Bellabeat

How UBS navigates the challenge 

“To achieve a level playing field, we need to acknowledge, understand and address the differences in the barriers and needs that under-represented groups have to overcome. This could mean looking at how we develop under-represented groups, or how we can encourage those from different backgrounds to consider our industry as a viable career option.”

Cicilia Wan
Head Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Employee Relations, UBS


While the last decade was defined by technology disruption, the penetration of technology in many industries remains low. That means the technology adoption curve is just at its beginning.  Indeed, digital penetration is set to accelerate, as digitalization leads to a fundamental change in how businesses deliver value to customers.

Digitalization is an all-encompassing challenge that entrepreneurs should approach on three levels: normative, strategic and operational. This will prepare them to transform the business holistically, to realize the potential of digital technologies and to stay ahead of rapid digitalization.

The entrepreneur’s view:

“Often times, perceived threats to a business turn out to be opportunities. You need to be aware of trends and continuously monitor market indicators to determine your business direction. Then you can identify which threats present opportunities.”

Erez Zimerman
CEO, Massivit 3D Printing Technologies

“If you think that there’s a new technology that could be meaningful for your business that you don’t want to miss, but you don’t understand, talk to people who do or hire them.”

Sabrina Spielberger
Founder and CEO, Digidip

How UBS navigates the challenge 

“Focus on what matters and what can move the needle instead of just building more digital capabilities. And constantly strive to take things to the next level.” 

Richard Chow
Head of Digital and Platform Activation, UBS

Consumer trends

Whether it be sustainable consumption or smarter devices, consumer trends are changing fast. For entrepreneurs, it is essential to understand existing consumer trends and anticipate future ones to be in sync with their market.

To stay abreast of the latest trends, there is a range a of information sources – whether online, offline, local or global, focused and general. Beyond that, you can interact with diverse consumers to gauge emerging preferences. Our report highlights trends likely to watch.

The entrepreneur’s view:

“Stay on top of what your clients are looking for and continuously provide them with improved service on all fronts. For example, we are constantly looking for new channels to stay in touch with our customer base, exploring new ways of marketing and enhancing our services in response to their needs.”

Jahid Fazal-Karim
Owner and Chairman of the Board, Jetcraft

“Living through the pandemic has fundamentally altered how people nowadays want to spend their free time. Many people yearn for a meaningful vacation. They want to go to a place to relax in a calm atmosphere, disconnect from the digital world and fully engage with nature.”

Marina Efraimoglou
Founder and CEO, Euphoria Retreat

“When companies deliver amazing interactive experiences, driven by powerful brand-driven storytelling, magic happens.”

Gregory Mager
Co-founder, Maesa


How UBS navigates the challenge 

“Don’t focus too much on consumer trends without questioning them or trying to imagine (almost) the opposite. It is often worthwhile to consider what if it was not like that.”

Markus Iofcea
Head of Y Think Tank, UBS

What is next?

To discover high-level insights about how to tackle the five challenges, download the executive summary or full report by connecting with us. Would you like to receive regular insights, exchange with other entrepreneurs, connect with thought leaders or attend events on your chosen topics? If so, join our exclusive entrepreneur networks.