A few years ago, starting a business was akin to climbing Mount Everest – yes, it could be done, but only by a very few brave souls. And while some risk-takers reached the summit, some were inevitably swept under the weight and speed of an avalanche.
Today, entrepreneurs are as ubiquitous as pumpkin spice lattes. If entrepreneurs are truly born and not made, there seems to be one born every minute now. So what has led to this entrepreneurial explosion we seem to have been silently marching toward for decades? Just how has entrepreneurship changed in the 21st century?
Entrepreneurs are Getting Younger
Did you know that JP Morgan was in his 50s before he saw real banking success? In decades past, it was not uncommon to see entrepreneurs in their 30s and 40s making a go of it. In fact, that was kind of the unspoken rule. Make sure you have a degree under your belt and the experience to bring your vision to life before you announced you were going into business for yourself.
Today’s entrepreneurs are younger, much younger in some instances. It is no longer mandatory to wear a business suit to be taken seriously as an entrepreneur. When you have the next greatest idea for a tech startup, a hoodie and flip-flops will do.
The information age has given all of us unbridled access to an endless wealth of knowledge. A 17-year-old can sit on his bed doing market research and scouring the globe for the right angel investor. If you have a solid idea and the desire to bring it to life, age and education level are no longer important. In this way, technology has truly leveled the playing field.
The Playing Field Is More Diverse
Because of easier access to information, business technologies, and startup capital, a growing number of women and minority entrepreneurs are throwing their hats into the business ring and finding great success.
In the last ten years, the number of women-owned firms reporting $10 million or more in annual sales has jumped by 75%. Minority-owned businesses are also booming in the US. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of minority business enterprises increased from 5.8 million to 8.0 million. This trend is expected to continue as the newest generation of business owners reflect the country’s growing diversity.
Technology Offers a Lower Barrier to Entry
Entrepreneurs no longer need to hang out the proverbial shingle on a brick-and-mortar business. Thanks to the internet, entire businesses are created and run online from any place in the world. It’s ridiculously easy to do business with someone from another country, all from the comfort of your living room.
Technology has also significantly eliminated the need for huge startup capital. Most web hosting companies offer monthly rates as low as $10, and blogging platforms like WordPress even allow users to post content for free. This cuts out the huge risk factor that typically keeps people from chasing their entrepreneurial dreams.
Social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram make it easy for new businesses owners to promote, market, and build their brand online. Delivery of digital products is quick and efficient and does not require someone to rent a warehouse and store physical products. And, there is virtually no overhead with an online business – all you need is a laptop and mobile phone.
But what technology has really done is allowed entrepreneurs to monetize their passions and build profitable businesses, in some cases, without even really trying. That is a total game-changer, and an awesome one at that.