5 Reasons Why This is the Age for the Entrepreneur by David WIlliams
Entrepreneurship has often been seen as this esoteric ideal that is unreachable by most. We hear stories of the Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world, their fame and fortune, and believe that only the few can achieve the rewards and fulfillment of building a company. While the road is still undoubtedly hard and full of sacrifice, it has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. The conditions have never been better to take the idea you have been mulling over to market domination.
#1 There Have Never Been More Opportunities
One thing that may be a surprise is that when electricity was first utilized, productivity didn't increase for 20 years. The reason was because all we did was replace existing steam powered machines with electric ones. It took a new generation of business leaders to realize and utilize the potential of the new technology and change the way things were done. Technology is only as useful as the imaginations of the people using it.
Processing power and technology has been growing at a faster rate than ever before in human history, but productivity hasn't been increasing nearly as fast. It is the entrepreneurial imagination that will close the gap and allow us to realize the true potential of all this new technology. Eric Brynjolsson has a great Ted Talk on this topic.
#2 You Can Reach Customers Easier Than Ever
Social media is often spoken of as the cure to all marketing woes. It is supposed to be the next big revolution of marketing. Without being quite so sensational, it has really changed things, especially for startups. Startups don't have huge marketing budgets for large media buys. They typically rely on guerilla marketing grass roots efforts. Startups are at their best when they cater to the super passionate wierdos called the innovators and early adopters (as I say with endearment as these are my people) in the Technology Adoption Lifecycle.
Now, first of all, society is changing and there are a lot more of these innovators and early adopters than there used to be. Marketing guru Seth Godin does a great job of telling us how the days of average products for average people are over; there is a need to stand out and cater to a specific market in his TED Talk. And second, if you can get these passionate weirdoes to love your product and your company, social media gives them the tools to spread the word like never before. If you have a story worth telling, your evangelists now have megaphones.
#3 You Can Make Your Widget For Cheaper Than Ever Before
Wow, do we live in an age of revolutionary technologies. You could write a book on how many technologies are currently changing the landscape of business; and I am sure plenty of people have. One game changer for startups is 3D printing. Manufacturing without the need for economy of scale??? Are you serious???? Hallelujah, praise the lord of the startup; now we don’t need to find some magical way to raise the capital to buy 10,000 units to afford to sell one anymore.
Now, hold on for a second. Let’s not get too carried away. The per unit cost of 3D printed products is still fairly high and the product may or may not be able to go to market at a significant scale just through 3D printing quite yet. But, it can really save some time and money in prototyping and getting some initial products to sell to your first batches of customers. This can greatly reduce capital and time requirements when starting a business. Many college campuses and even some libraries have 3D printers available for free for you to play with *cough* I mean prototype with.
#4 You Don’t Need To Rely On Expensive Brick and Mortar Anymore
So, even for some startups brick and mortar could be the way to go, but now we can now reach customers without a physical location easier for ever before. And, virtual office technologies let us work together without needing to spend lots of money on a building.
One perfect example of this is a company called Morris Williams Realty. It is a real estate brokerage that is revolutionizing the industry. So, real estate companies have brick and mortar offices, they cost a lot of money and no one ever really uses them. But, back in the 80s, before the Internet was of any significance, one would be hard pressed to operate any kind of organization without a brick and mortar office. But, what Morris Williams did was ask what if we designed a real estate company for the 21st century? What would that look like? Well, they tried an experiment where they had no brick and mortar and instead had a virtual office. They didn’t incur any of the immense brick and mortar costs so they didn’t need to raise capital and were able to pass the savings on to their agents. This cost reduction, along with the freedom and convenience the virtual office gives their agents a value proposition that has led to them being wildly successful. The capabilities of virtual offices can revolutionize your industry too!
#5 40% of Fortune 500 Companies Will Be Gone In 10 Years
So, this is a prediction made by the Babson School of Business and predictions are great and all but are really only as valuable as their reasoning. And, it doesn't mean that there won't be big companies in 10 years, just that there will be new ones. And many of them will be the ones started today. We have established that technological capabilities and customer preferences are changing dramatically. This means that those who adapt thrive, and large corporations aren’t always the best at adapting. But, adapting is in the entrepreneur’s veins. Another force that is radically altering business is young people. And, for the most part, large corporations don’t understand them. They don’t know how to sell to them and they don’t know how to manage them. Young people are leaving large corporations for a place where they can make more of an impact and they are often flocking to startups.