When entrepreneurs talk longingly about the good old days, they do a great disservice to the technology that assists entrepreneurs today.
They remember a “simpler” time, when computer programs were few and the number of sectors they could enter was (loosely) limited to retail, trade or service. For them, the good old days were a time when paths to profit were more obvious, and decisions were whittled down from just two or three options. However, these entrepreneurs are forgetting the vast manpower required to start a successful business prior to the advent of modern software packages.
Despite the country’s well-publicised financial problems, entrepreneurs are experiencing a golden age. It is a time when software can meet every need. There is no need to keep handwritten diaries of contacts and sales opportunities: CRM software from companies like Bullhorn handles this, recording correspondence automatically. New accounting and tax calculating software like Crunch has made shelves loaded with ring binders a mere memory. Now, rather than having five separate telephone conversations with business partners, or travelling for a group meeting, there is videophone conferencing. And why wait for feedback to be returned via the unpredictable postal system when posing the question via a customer social network or a quick Survey Monkey questionnaire can generate instant responses?
Due to these – frankly wonderful – software packages, the task of business growth has developed from a manual undertaking to one which can arguably be run on autopilot. This is not to say that entrepreneurs don’t still have to work hard, applying their ideas, direction and guidance to the company; just that many of the administrative jobs that were once so time-consuming can now be carried out with ease and minimal input. For the businessperson who wants to concentrate on their personal skillset, whether that is sales, design or recruitment, this makes the prospect of starting an independent business increasingly attractive.
And then there’s the Internet. Having an understanding of relevant markets remains vital when launching a company, but gaining this knowledge no longer requires years of experience, networking, conferences and textbooks. Online media can make available the advice and experience of the industry’s most successful businesses, providing best and worst practice case studies, while Google answers questions in a matter of seconds.
But it is social media, and specifically Twitter, which now forms the modern entrepreneur’s best support network. Entering a relevant search term leads you to hundreds of articles on that topic, while conversing with industry experts has never been easier. Emerging technologies such as this have completely changed the way business owners discover, absorb and utilise business expertise.
The process of starting a business has changed beyond recognition. If an entrepreneur refers to the “good old days”, they must be referring to the corporate golf days that were once so common, because starting a business has never been easier.
Richard Prime is the founder of Sonovate, a service that provides experienced recruiters with the tools and support they need to establish their own businesses.