It’s been thirty years since most of the world learned about the Internet, and in that time it’s changed the way business is conducted around the globe. The magnitude of this transformation is sometimes underappreciated. The powerful platform enables instantaneous global communication and serves as a universal source of information. In effect, the Internet opened up business to entrepreneurs with the lowest cost of entry ever seen.
The great equalizer
The digital transformation broke down the walls that kept entrepreneurs from opening a business. Being able to open a business with very little capital took down the barriers that a physical location had created for most of history. With a few lines of HTML and very little investment, anyone could open a business that reaches a very large market.
For example, imagine you want to start a business selling a high-quality nutritional supplement like Fungi Perfecti. Before the advent of the Internet, you would have to secure and rent a prime retail location, purchase fixtures, hire employees, print advertisements, and staff the store. In the age of the Internet, you can set up a webpage, advertise the benefits of mushrooms using banner ads and Facebook, drop ship from the source, and staff the entire operation singlehandedly.
Innovation is faster
Entrepreneurship was harder before the digital age. Working on innovations came with significant investment, physical prototypes, and high risk and failure rates. Before access to the Internet was widespread, real estate was king. The physical storefront gave you access to customers.
In contrast, a digital business operates directly, fast, and efficiently. The barriers to starting businesses are lower, with inexpensive access to a level playing field. The digital revolution removed virtually all obstacles to the creation of an enterprise.
There are very successful brick and mortar businesses, but the online world provides access to an audience that you can’t get offline. Smartphones furthered the revolution, offering Internet access from the palm of your hand. Once every adult was connected to the Internet 24/7, opportunities to showcase products and build loyal communities grew exponentially.
Social media offers unprecedented access to established demographic categories with a relatively low investment. Business owners don’t have to rely on press releases and friendly reporters for media coverage. Blogs allow individual entrepreneurs to publish their own ideas, opinions, and highlight opportunities.
Throughout history, entrepreneurs sought out innovations to run business processes. Before the Internet, automation was the sole purview of large manufacturing operations. But once the businesses were connected, a website can track inventory, instantly charge customers for purchases, and print shipping labels without any human intervention. The automation of tasks that once required a staff of people helps business owners pursue opportunities like never before.
It’s astounding how dramatically business operations, advertising, media, and the marketplace have changed since the advent of the Internet. The prospect of owning a business is open to many more individuals than before, and owners can build an enterprise with a small investment. The low cost of entry allows innovators and inventors to bring their ideas to market much more quickly and efficiently.