Are We Living in the Entrepreneurial Age of the Ages?
It’s interesting to think about how easy it is to build a business today.
I was having a discussion with my parents yesterday when I went and saw them for dinner and we were going over my businesses and how they’re all going.
And it made me come back to my skill set and how I’m able to so easily try things even if they’re not related to my core skill set (focus is an interesting question we’ll come to in another blog).
The capital cost has been reduced to close to zero
You can literally with less than $50 (domain name purchase, website hosting, logo design, and some spare change) put together a website.
The barriers to entry are much smaller than they were in the pre-internet age.
I even vaguely remember around 2010 — how much more difficult it was to put together a website with what would now be considered pretty simple functionality.
This is what has also brought about the age of teenagers building incredibly successful businesses.
The internet has democratized access to information
Whether you’re an impoverished kid in Mozambique or son of a tech mogul in Manhattan — you now get access via the internet to basically the same information.
It’s all there, online free for anyone to consume — which means that you can pretty much figure out anything you like with the right amount of Googling.
More supporting ecosystems than ever before
This is really a continuation of the last one — in that you now have a proliferation of ‘how to’ literature online in the form of step by step guides and video tutorials and courses you can access for free.
It means that unless what you’re doing is totally obscure — somewhere out there is probably an expert step by step guide on how to achieve whatever it is you’re looking to do.
Knowledge of “Insider Information” has reduced prices in a capitalist environment
The internet has also had a corresponding effect on pricing for business owners.
Historically people would pay for access to premium knowledge — and whilst this is still the case — it’s ALSO the case that you can get the most information about most things — online.
Invariably, in a capitalist environment where businesses are vying with each other per transaction — this leads to price wars which ultimately are of benefit to the end consumer.
We’re able to take advantage of this when accessing ‘compare pricing’ type environments such as flight, utilities, and automotive insurance, and other such pricing.
With just a few minutes of searching, you’re able to find the best price for a pair of Nike trainers you may have historically bought in store — but now you GO in store to try them on — and then purchase them online.
An acceleration of resource and value creation FOR entrepreneurs
Naturally — those who build businesses look to help others who build businesses as well — and this leads to a cluster of resources that have been put together to help entrepreneurs continue to create.
This is also because entrepreneurs are a major part of all value creation if you look at whole new economies being created by companies such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Airbnb, Uber, and Tesla.
You only need to look at incubators, accelerators, and access to funding that exists far and wide outside of Silicon Valley now.
This allows just about anybody to raise capital for any company that has a need for it.
It has also given access to thousands to invest in innovative companies.
The concept of ‘the crowds’ being able to invest in exciting new companies on the scale it’s happening today is unthinkable.
And so more and more, crowdfunding offers an opportunity for entrepreneurs to raise money without giving away equity necessarily.
Social media — a scalable form of word of mouth
Social media probably offers one of the most potent forms of social connections and means of allowing one to both promote a new product but also to allow ideas to spread.
It allows bedroom startups to compete with global incumbents provided the idea is right and it’s as Ted would put it ‘ideas worth spreading’.
The rise of the gig economy
It’s now becoming more and more acceptable and more and more achievable to have a combination of income sources and work several roles at the same time.
Business to this degree is artisanal and local (as perhaps it’s always been) but in an interconnected global fashion more than ever.
This means that someone who works a 9–5 job in a creative agency can also DJ on the side and make several hundred $ a month doing so.
It also means that someone can make money as a part-time tutor, dancer, and legal assistant all at the same time.
Then there’s also many who have a day job but also offer the same services on the side to other smaller businesses.
All of this is becoming more and more common.
Continual new job creation
The internet’s recesses seem to infinitely expand as new economies require new consultants, freelancers, companies, and sector experts.
You only need to look at the wealth of job types on freelancing platforms such as Upwork to establish this as a fact.
The millions who make an income as freelance web designers, developers, marketers, and more is incredible.
Product development cycles are shorter than they’ve ever been
The time taken to build a company is now shorter than it’s ever been — this means that building complex industrial projects can take years instead of decades.
It means that building companies with local, national, multinational, and then global reach is now happening in a matter of years as well in a way that’s unprecedented.
The concept of the MVP (minimum viable product) has also meant that products get shipped faster than ever before.
New economy creation is happening relentlessly
It used to be the case that innovative new companies (such as Airbnb) would come along every now and again, creating a whole host of new companies, competitors, jobs, and more.
But now, the scale and pace of change is relentless and new economies (Blockchain, AI, Virtual Reality) are popping up faster than ever.
I feel like this global pandemic has accelerated the adoption of remote working which will also lead to an explosion of entrepreneurial adaption.
Companies being forced to view what were local inhouse teams now as part of a global ‘work-from-home’ economic environment will force businesses to go online faster than ever before.
And in turn, this will mean people will start new businesses quicker, and more and more businesses that are totally online will be created.
If we take a wider look at historical trade you had local trade from village to village.
Then you had the agricultural revolution which was followed by an expansion of trade routes, a wider spread of trade, and ultimately the invention of money.
This was followed by the beginning of the marketplace.
After this, we had the Industrial Revolution, and then the printing press, and long haul transport such as cars, planes, and trains.
And then the internet came.
And the internet changed everything.
Coming back to my parents
This leads me back to the conversation with my parents and makes me realize how fortunate I am.
My dad grew up in a dirt village in India where he struggled to get food on the table and worried about how he’d survive, with him and just his mother let alone anything else.
From there he ultimately would make it to the UK after many trials and tribulations, and grow up working at Heathrow Airport as a driver having had no education beyond 16.
This has been his life for the last 50 years and everything became about raising his children to give them opportunities he never had.
And as someone who was born in 1955 — oh how the world has changed for my father.
I’m so grateful for everything my parents have given me.
And well, I also feel so blessed that I truly am living in the age of the entrepreneur — I best make the most of it.