Amtrepreneur; Rise of the new business model

I recently read an article in the April edition of Arena magazine entitled “All hail the new amateur” which looked at the increase in a new breed of creative and talented people who are defying the credit crunch by taking something they do for pleasure, adding something contemporary (be it product, marketing strategy, technical knowhow) and building a business to take on the establishment within that field. 

Maybe its inventive eye catching design ideas, maybe it’s an inane gift to string words together in a way people love to read, perhaps it’s an ability to take the information at your fingertips, learn it, reproduce it and come out the other side with more than something that pays the bills but also receives recognition from your peers and envy from the structured corporations. 

The key to it all is that amateur doesn’t mean poor quality; it simple means you do it for the love of it and not the bottom dollar. Where these guys and gals come in however is in the gap between amateur and professional by doing something new; and in that gap the amtrepreneur is born. 

Ok so let’s say you like to take photographs, it’s not your job but one day you realize that what you do as your job leaves you feeling unfulfilled. 

You stop.

Then you embark on trying to turn taking photographs into your primary source of income.  For me the amtrepreneur is that one step further where the skills and drive of the entrepreneur step in, where you are delving into a niche somehow,  either doing something that’s not been done before, with a product that’s not been seen before or merely strategically building your business to create a solution in a new way.

 A couple of examples are; Paul Grifiths (or his business pseudonym Babycakes).  He has given up his day job in a call centre, created a business in his bedroom selling t-shirts and hoodies on the internet.  His initial run of 25 t-shirts is now a distant memory and his business has seen him shift over 500,000 units and open a store in Manchester.  Where is the unique angle? Paul created the company to meet the demands of his own club going peers and as such has exploited the rise in social networking to meet his market, with over 87,000 MySpace friends his customers come to him, a good position to be in during a credit crunch, especially as he’s only 21 years old.

My favorite though is two twenty something brothers who revamped their parent’s Italian restaurant (Casamia) by scouring the internet and teaching themselves the details of fine dining gastronomy from the likes of YouTube and other sites offering the chance to learn without stepping foot in the classroom to the point where they have become highly skilled in their own right.  They have even recently earned a Michelin star, no higher accolade can really be bestowed on a restaurant, and they didn’t even have to put up with the verbal abuse of Gordon Ramsay to get it. 

A fantastic contemporary tale for both home taught cooks who love to learn new dishes, tastes and techniques and also a result for anyone who shares their knowledge of what they do with the world via YouTube, their blog or whatever other medium they pick. 

The bottom line I take from the article is that even whilst the financial security blanket we have been holding on to so tightly suddenly appears to have a few holes in it, we can look at ourselves, what we are passionate about and do more than simple get by, we can excel. 

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