This is, without a doubt, the greatest time ever – and I mean ever in the entire course of human history – to start, own, run, and grow a small business.
Hyperbole? No. fact. The age of the small business has arrived.
In the last 30 years or so, five different seminal events/factors/changes have combined to transform the world into one where small business grows ever more dominant, both here at home and abroad:
1. New markets: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, small businesses could only sell their wares to people in their immediate geographic area. How quaint. But two things dramatically changed that such that no one need ever be tied to doing business only in their neighborhood anymore:
- The Internet: Obviously, we all work virtually these days, and many of us sell virtually. My pals here at Concur in fact make it so that working virtually has never been easier. Never before in history have small businesses had the ability to work and sell so easily, anywhere across the globe. And the online, virtual marketplace is limitless.
- The fall of communism: In Eastern Europe, the old Soviet Union, in China, Asia, and in South America, capitalism won. Markets have been opened. In China alone, there are hundreds of millions of new small businesses. New markets have been born.
2. Attitudes: Because capitalism has proven to be the best economic system, because entrepreneurs are now the new global rock stars, small business and entrepreneurship are now in vogue. And because of that, the idea of owning your own business has become much more acceptable, indeed, desirable. Small business is on the march because, among other reasons, people now get that supporting small business is good business.
3. Technology: This may be the most important reason and change. The ways in which technology has fueled the small business revolution are almost too numerous to mention, but a short list that is still relatively recent would include:
Amazing apps that allow you to be ever more productive, software to run your business, email and texting for new, instant, global communication, the Internet and websites which allow us to look big and be global, e-commerce, social media, laptops tablets, and smartphones that allow us to work anywhere, anytime, and finally, affordable air travel allowing us to actually travel easier and meet all of these virtual connections we make online.
And when you add that all of this technology has, in many cases, dramatically lowered the cost of entry, starting a business today can be incredibly affordable.
4. Help: There once was a time when small business people were on their own. No longer. Today, there is an abundance of help available:
- Organizations like SCORE, the SBA, SBDCs, non-profits, community colleges, and mentor programs all make small business success much more viable.
- Websites like this one, my own, and scores of others, empower small businesses.
And the help is also financial. Banks are lending again, crowd-funding is coming into its own, and other creative solutions are available. Combined, this means that there is really a lot of institutional help available to the small business owner today.
5. Tide of history: All of the above combined means that the wave of the future and tide of the present are all headed in one direction: Towards the ascendance and dominance of entrepreneurship and small business in the global marketplace.
As the Rolling Stones might say, Time, time, time, is on your side, yes it is!