Do you remember when the total market for your products could be measured by how many people lived in your city (or within a practical traveling distance)? Being able to cross the city limits cost a lot of money and being able to cross national boundaries was a pipe dream for most.
Those days are over. Today you can run a business anywhere and sell to anybody. Today you can run a globally successful company from your kitchen table and it’s all thanks to technology… or all technology’s fault, according to the heads of corporations who aren’t too thrilled with how quickly the indie guys are gaining on them.
Last year the McKinsey Global Institute made some major waves when they released their report on the major types of technology that had the most potential to dramatically transform everyday life, the way we do business and the global economy. Labeled “Disruptive Technologies,” the list included energy storage technologies and technology that is helping with genomics.
While those disruptive technologies are changing our bigger pictures, there are all sorts of developments and technologies that are changing our day to day lives, affecting the way we do business with each other and the way we go into business for ourselves.
For example, a lot of those “chain” stores that you see popping up everywhere—those used to all be owned and managed by a single corporation. Today, they are (for the most part) franchise opportunities.
Franchises aren’t really a new development but they’ve come a long way over the last couple of decades. Now they are a great hybrid that allows people to start their own businesses but have the support of large corporations. The franchise owner puts up a large chunk of money to get the storefront up and running but then they keep the majority of the profits that the location brings in. If the franchise owner is smart or inventive, they can make some huge profits. For example, a lot of UPS franchise owners are choosing to open locations in non-traditional business locations (like inside of convention centers and on or adjacent to college campuses) and they are the better for it.
The Cloud is, arguably, has played the largest role in helping to globalize the economy and the workplace. Now, thanks to the cloud, you can do business wherever you are. In his book, The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau talks about a generation of entrepreneurs who consider themselves global. They regularly take off on adventures and, thanks to the Cloud and other web based technologies, are able to continue doing business the way they would in their home office spaces.
MOBILE AND WEB PAYMENTS
We love to complain about PayPal and its fees and its lack of customer service. Still, PayPal revolutionized the way we buy and sell things. Being able to send any amount of almost any currency to anywhere in the world in just a few seconds and have it automatically convert to any other currency instantaneously based on current market values sounds like something straight out of the Jetsons but it’s become something we take for granted. The many spinoff payment methods, like Square, et al are all built around the technology and innovation showcased by PayPal. And to think, just a decade ago most of us were highly suspicious of the idea of sending money through the Internet.
These are just three of the major technological and business developments that have changed the field of entrepreneurship as we know it within the last ten years. Imagine just how different things will be ten years from now!