Technology has leveled the business startup playing field

April 21, 2010

NEW YORK, Apr. 21, 2009/Troy Media/ –   Starting your own business has never been easy. For decades, the failure rate for new businesses hasn’t changed. The rule of thumb is that 40 per cent of new businesses fail within the first year and more than 80 per cent of startups fail within five years.

The good news, however, is that technology has leveled the playing field, making it possible for virtually anyone to start a business on a shoestring budget.

Thanks to the Internet, anything you could possibly need – information, help, services, vendors – is at your fingertips. The better your Internet-searching skills, the faster you’ll find the information you need.

Technical professionals, particularly, have it made on the entrepreneurial front because there is a consistent demand for their skills.

Easy-to-start tech businesses

A few easy-to-start tech businesses that come to mind are computer repair/networking catering to home and business users, Web design and management, custom software development for small companies, and computer tutoring.

The dream of running your own business has always been a compelling reason for giving entrepreneurship serious thought. All the hype surrounding starting a business — the countless how-to books, the anyone-can-do-it ads, and the endless 10-step plans and formulas, some of which practically guarantee success — can be very seductive.

There are even new terms that describe the freedom, independence and self-satisfaction of business ownership. A few years ago, Dan Pink put the term  “free agent” (not to be confused with a professional athlete who is free to sign a contract with any team) on the map. Author of Free Agent Nation, Pink says that free agents fashion their work lives to suit their needs. Technology, superfast computers and high-speed Internet connections make it all possible.

Avoid glamorous startups

Businesses offering the greatest chance of success? If you’re thinking ordinary businesses, you’re on the right track. Most people look for exciting, glamorous opportunities that no one has tried before.

Your best chances of success are mundane businesses that meet a constant need.

Technological advances have eliminated hundreds of jobs, but they’ve  created opportunities as well.

While technology has made people’s lives easier, it’s also complicated them, because they’ve become dependent upon technology. When their technology malfunctions or stops working, they’re brought to a complete standstill.

The newest technology boasts being user-friendly, which means that it’s supposedly easy to use and master. The reality is that the term “user-friendly” was coined by techies. What a code jockey or computer engineer deems “easy to use” often amounts to wading through a stress-filled, burdensome morass of  incomprehensible instructions for the rest of us.

Another fact of life is that the hottest and newest technologies are far more complicated than earlier versions. This translates to more work than the average technology technician can handle.  Entrepreneurial techies have created thriving businesses based upon consumers’ inability to repair their own gadgets.

If you’re considering the entrepreneurial path, identify a business opportunity that serves a dual purpose: It’s enjoyable and also provides a good livelihood.

Are you sure you can cut it?

Even if the variables are right, approach business ownership cautiously. Limit risk by answering the following questions:

  • What makes you think you’ll succeed? What is so special about your product or service?
  • Who is your competition, and what kind of threat do they pose?
  • Do you have an entrepreneurial temperament? Not everyone is cut out for business ownership.
  • Can you work alone and trust your instincts to make independent decisions?
  • Can you deal with intense pressure and stress?
  • Are you prepared to work long hours and  weekends?
  • Can you delegate authority?

If these questions didn’t trigger immediate affirmative answers, think twice about starting a business. Unlike a traditional structured job working for an organization, guaranteeing a weekly paycheck, don’t expect a 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. workday. Owning and running a business translates to a lifestyle, and requires total commitment. It almost always dominates your life.

Knowing the givens, are you ready to make the commitment?

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