“Starting and growing a business is easier today than it has ever been,” I was told recently at a breakfast I attended. The person making the statement had started his first business in the early 1960’s and despite many failures along the road, had ended his business career with what could only be deemed as success.
That statement of course got me thinking. I am in the business growth environment, empowering business men and women through knowledge and tools to become better than they already are. So, is it easier today than in the past? And if so, are we making the most of the opportunities we have before us?
Before answering those questions, let me define what I mean when I use the term business growth. Business growth in this context means the overall growth of an enterprise over a sustainable period, typically 3 to 5 years at a rate above the level of inflationary growth. This would include a sustained and consistent growth in revenue and profitability, with a relevant and sustainable level of expenditure and investment.
With that in mind, is business growth easier today than ever before?
Prior to the rise of the internet, email, file sharing and VOIP, communication with clients and prospects was a time consuming and personnal draining task. I recall being awed by the size of the mail room and typing pool at what was considered a small company which I joined for a short time between leaving school and joining the military in 1979. 17 people in the mail room working 8 hour shifts on a 24-hour rotation and 44 ladies banging away at their Olivette typewriters with duplicating machines clattering away to keep up.
You may recall using a pager as a means of remaining in ‘immediate’ contact with your office, before the days of mobile phones and instant messaging. Clients and prospects were happy if you got back to them 2 or 3 days later or if you were sending them a letter it could be a week or 10 days. Researching a prospects history, background and personnal was an arduous task as there was no Google, Yahoo or Bing and social media were two very different and distinct ideas.
Raising capital required lengthy interviews with the bank manager and many long days of waiting for a decision as documents floated around the country at the speed of the postal service. And then there was getting paid! Who could forget the wonderful days of, “The cheque is in the post” 120 days after payment was due!
These a just a few of the challenges the entrepreneurs of yesteryear had to overcome. But overcome they did.
Today we have Google, smartphones, email, VOIP, instant messaging. Apps, social media and chatbots. We can send out thousands of emails in an instant with mail merge, MailChimp, GetResponse, Aweber or Infusionsoft. Accessing prospect data and researching their history and business environment is as far away as the nearest WI-FI connection.
We can look through their social media accounts to gain an understanding of their habits and using a platform like LinkedIn, can see who their clients are further aiding us to develop our market. We have internet banking and overnight mail delivery to almost all parts of the world. There are the alternative fund raising options, like group funding, which makes access to finance for business growth easier than ever before. Business focused social media platforms, like LinkedIn, provide you with the opportunity to get your message and your expertise out to a wider audience than ever before.
However, it is not all sunshine and roses. We have a different set of challenges to overcome. All the advances in technology, communications, the development of social media has made the world of business a very small, but extremely busy and competitive place. Small not in volume or size. Small in ease of access to clients and prospects. No matter where you conduct business today or in which industry you are in, you can be almost certain, there is someone in a country on the other side of the world or just around the corner from you, who can provide your service or product to your clients at half your price.
Clients demand an instant response and if they don’t get it, are either off to your competitors or hit social media to let the world know how rubbish you, your company, your product or service is.
So, is it easier to grow your business today that it was 20, 30 or 40 years ago? I don’t think it is.
Circumstances have changed. Political and legislative environments have changed. Methods and resources have changed. But the opportunity for business growth remains the same and whether your business grows or remains where it is, is dependent on your attitude and your actions. Therein is the biggest challenge.
Come and meet Vic discussing business growth at our November 24th Exeter Business Breakfast. You can book tickets here.
Vic is also leading our December 5th Like Minds U LinkedIn For Business Growth Masterclass. You can book your place here.