Little is the New Big: How Technology Helps Microbusiness Look Big and Stay Small
Does every small or microbusiness need to expand? Is it the natural evolution to get bigger or die? While the traditional line of thinking is that businesses must grow to survive, the good news is: Big is not always best or even big anymore. According to recent statistics, small products and business’ now make up 99.7 percent of all business in the United States.
Today, little is the new big, and it is microbusiness that makes business news.
According to a recent story in USA TODAY, “a new generation of entrepreneurs is launching millions of tiny companies differing from business in the past: They don't want employees.”
This trend towards an ever-accelerating number of one-person businesses has been building for some time, but it was 2006 when we saw just how strong this trend was: 20 million out of the 25 million small businesses in this country now are one-person microbusinesses, and annual receipts of these 20 million small businesses are now an astonishing $1 trillion, the article says.
How do these micropreneurs make it work? How can you? You know the answer: technology. Technology, especially computer-related technology, has changed business radically in the last 20 years and in fact is the most significant thing to happen to small business – ever.
These days, there is no reason any small business should look small. Between powerful computer hardware and easy-to-use business software, small cell phones and cool PDAs, e-commerce and wireless Internet, and faxes and laser printing, there are a plethora of tools available that make running a one-person business both easy and economically viable.
While there once was a time when you had to be a huge multi-national corporation (even the name has an anachronistic tone, doesn’t it?) to sell your wares outside of your small geographic region, today you need not be U.S. Steel or the East India Trading Company to do so. All you have to be is a smart e-entrepreneur with a good computer and Website, and you are in the game.
Here are a few tips to help you be a successful global, one-person microbusiness:
1. Keep your overhead low: One of the reasons one-person microbusinesses are growing rapidly is that it is a smart business model that does not require a lot of overhead. Yet there comes a time when even small entrepreneurs feel compelled to grow – to hire employees or get bigger, more expensive digs and so forth. But that temptation must be tempered. Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg:
* Bring in staff on an independent contractor, as-needed basis. It costs more to make them employees. Interns are also a great way to get help without radically compromising your bottom line.
* Consider working from home, or rent space that is not too expensive. For instance, executive suites can be rented on a part-time basis and are a great place to meet clients while you run the rest of the shop out of your home office.
2. Technology makes it possible The reason microbusinesses are exploding today and not a generation ago is new technology. This technology that has made it possible to run a small business so much more easily and successfully than any time before, so do not skimp on your computer software needs.
Yes, I did say to keep your overhead low, but that must be done intelligently. Computer technology is what allows you to sell globally from your spare bedroom. Computer technology is what allows you to look like your business employs 30 people, even if it does not. Computer technology is what sets you apart from your father’s small business. Invest in the sort of technology that will make a difference then.
3. Be a good boss: Especially when you work from home, it is easy to commingle your home and work selves. Sometimes it is fun to work at midnight at home but when you keep checking your PDA for e-mails while at the movies, you may have gone too far.
Be kind to yourself. Don’t work too hard. It’s easy to do these days with mobile technology. Take time off during the week to golf or play with your kids or whatever. Just remember that the reason we went into business for ourselves is that we wanted to create our own schedule, so be a benevolent microbusiness manager.
It is an incredible time to be a solo-entrepreneur. If you tap the tools, you can do it right.
Our Small Business Resource Center is always evolving. Check back often for updates and to take advantage of resources, tools, information, promotions and rebates all designed for small businesses just like yours.
We would love to have your feedback on what resources you would like to see within the SBRC or to hear about a product, service or solution that worked well for your organization. Please use our feedback form to send us your input or tell your story.