Getting a business off the ground has never been an easy task.
There are so many things that can go wrong, and so many boxes that need to be ticked along the way.
That said, it’s more accessible now than ever before — developments in the tech world throughout the last decade in particular have made it monumentally easier to establish a startup.
The benefits don’t stop there, though, because there’s been a comparable improvement in the ease of growing a business.
The implications for entrepreneurial types are astounding. If you have a business idea that you believe could underpin a workable operation, you have a real shot at making it a reality (provided you’re willing to put in the effort).
So what are the specifics of this advantageous situation?
How exactly are advances in tech supporting business development and growth to this extent?
Let’s take a closer look:
It’s drastically cutting the cost of entry
Back before the internet hit the mainstream, even just covering the basics of a business operation was expensive.
You needed office space, members of staff, and all the equipment necessary to fill the former and allow the latter to get their work done. But that’s all changed due to the march of technology.
Now that it’s possible to run an online-only business, you can get operational without needing physical premises (allowing you to skip the rental cost as well as the tedious admin work involved).
Websites are extremely cheap to create and run, and depending on the nature of your business, that may be all your need (you could be offering a consultancy, for instance).
It’s offering micro-lending and crowdfunding
Attracting investment is a common source of frustration for aspiring business owners.
Building a strong case, networking relentlessly, trying to negotiate reasonable rates — getting a lawyer helps, but might be counterproductive because legal representation is expensive.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take a different approach?
Well, you can, and it’s all due to the advent of microlending: small investments from multiple sources, adding up to significant amounts without leaving any particular party exposed.
It’s most commonly used through crowdfunding, which involves setting out a proposition on a particular platform (and seeking support from any interested users.
So if you’re worried about dealing with bloodthirsty investors, you can skip that entirely and try to build your business through crowdfunding (there are plenty of platform options such as Fundable or Indiegogo).
It isn’t foolproof, but it could give you much more leeway.
It’s automating time-consuming tasks
The everyday workload of a growing business contains a lot of repetition: work that isn’t creative but needs to be done regardless.
Meetings need to be arranged, employees need to be paid, and customer queries need to be answered (that can be creative, but mostly isn’t).
With the power of internet automation, though, you can skip a lot of the inconvenience.
For example, you can arrange meetings with Calendly, configure payroll automatically with Wave, and handle commonplace queries with a chatbot built through a service like Gobot — and that’s just a small taste of what’s possible.
When you can set up automation to effectively take the bulk of the busy work off your agenda, you can commit so much more of your energy to your ultimate goal of growing your business.
It’s providing free access to unlimited advice
Building a successful business isn’t about reinventing the wheel.
Creativity is great, but originality is bordering on a meaningless concept these days: no matter what idea you have, there’s an excellent chance that many others have had it before, and some internet research will likely prove it.
What matters is execution — and to execute well, it never hurts to seek advice.
Thankfully, the internet makes it easy to find and contact almost anyone.
If there’s an expert in your chosen industry whom you strongly admire, you can reach out and ask for their advice.
If you’d like to get some tips from others who’ve been in your position, you can find a business forum (either general or specifically regarding your field) and ask for some assistance.
And if you have a specific question that you need to answer (about a particular legal matter, for instance, or how to achieve a certain target), then a simple Google search will often point you towards numerous articles with all the information you require. In short, technology allows you to draw from the well of human experience as deeply as you need.
It’s allowing entrepreneurs to work flexibly
Particularly when they’re just starting out, business owners can have plenty of other responsibilities to deal with: many of them continue to work part-time (or even full-time) jobs while they focus on proving that their ideas are viable.
This can make it tough to get to the office at useful times (standard operating hours, typically) — but that doesn’t matter online.
The more of your business resides in the cloud (as opposed to a physical location such as an office or a brick-and-mortar store), the more you’re capable of achieving regardless of where you go or when you’re able to work.
All you need is a laptop and a stable internet connection, and you can network, communicate with customers, update your business site, etc.
This is particularly great for mitigating the stresses of starting and growing a business.
Not only are the consequences for failure relatively minimal because it’s so easy to start anew (plenty of famous successes had to fail first, and you can do it faster), but you also get to work from your preferred scenery — even a beach if you wish, and you’re confident that you can keep your concentration in such an environment.