For those of you who started a business before the age of social media, blogging, and websites, you can attest: it’s a lot easier to be an entrepreneur these days.
Back then, we spent more time on the phone cold calling, and direct mail was booming. Networking was done face-to-face, and we couldn’t always track our marketing efforts. My, how times have changed.
1. Our Businesses No Longer Confined by Geography
In the “old days,” you marketed your business to people who could drive there. If you were a consultant, you served the local market. Now, thanks to email, social, and tools like Skype, you can have clients “virtually” anywhere.
Sure, there are still local businesses that cater to customers within a few miles only. The local pizzeria or neighborhood convenience store are examples. But my point is, if you want to sell or promote your products or services outside of your immediate area, you have many more options today. And more businesses are taking advantage of that.
2. Press Releases are Faster
If you remember, press releases used to mailed, faxed or emailed to newspapers and magazines. Imagine the lag time! You would have to know your news far in advance to have it published in a timely manner.
Now you can distribute your press release online within a few hours, or a day or two at most. The purpose of a release has shifted: today it’s more about reaching out directly to your target audience via the Web. Yes, you may still reach some journalists, and journalists may write about your business (in my publication we still run the occasional piece that we became aware of through a press release). But it’s one in 100 releases that we might write about. So your chances of getting press coverage are fairly small, and you need to reach out directly to your audience.
3. Mobile Makes Life Easier
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention mobile as one of the ways running a business has changed over the years. And it’s on both sides of the equation: for you as the business owner, a mobile phone is now equal to, if not more powerful than your computer. With it, you can manage your calendar, update your social profiles, and check your email. Oh yes, and use it to call clients!
Customers, too, take advantage of mobile. They’re searching Yelp for the best venues, mapping out the route to your store, and connecting with you through social media.
4. Your Network is Bigger. A Lot Bigger.
Going back to number 1, we used to rely on local a lot more. Want to network with likeminded folks? You used to have to find a local meeting and spend hours chatting up other business owners. Now you can do all that in minutes using social media. And since you might be marketing to an area beyond your city, social’s great for that too. Just establish yourself as an expert and provide great content, and you’ll build out your online network.
5. There’s a Tool for Anything You Need to Do
Remember accounting in ledger books? Actually writing down your transactions and using a calculator to figure out your finances? We laugh now, but that was the modus operandi for centuries. Now QuickBooks or Freshbooks will calculate for us. Heck, it’ll even pull the transactions directly from our online banking information.
Need to manage a project? Basecamp can help us assign tasks to employees and keep track of milestones. And Google, of course, is more than happy to help us send and receive emails, create and share documents online, and keep up with our calendars no matter where we are.
Technology has certainly made being a small business owner easier, and the price for productivity tools has come down over the years, if not completely disappeared.
If it’s easier than ever to be an entrepreneur, I look forward to seeing what the future will bring.