Cloud technology lifts “accidental” entrepreneur
Recovery from the recession has been frustratingly slow for many whose jobs disappeared as companies shrank or even vanished. Many have decided to take the plunge and start their own businesses.
This generation of business executives has become known as “accidental entrepreneurs.” But a recent Microsoft survey discovered their ability to launch and succeed in a business was no accident – it was made possible to a great extent by technology.
The survey found that nearly one-third of the business owners who established their companies during the recession were full-time employees prior to launching business ventures. Half said the recession impacted their decisions to start their own businesses; nearly three-quarters are going it alone, without any employees.
A large proportion of these entrepreneurs reported that technology made it possible for them to start their businesses. In fact, 30 percent said they would have been less likely to start a business without the advantage of today’s technologies.
Now, entrepreneurs are rising to the top in an array of business sectors, all with at least one trait in common: they depend on technology to operate and/or support their companies.
Today’s Web-based (also referred to as “cloud”) computing services do more and are easier to use than ever. Technology has become a strategic part of launching a business, rather than a mere cost center. Entrepreneurs can build their own websites easily, back up and store files in the cloud instead of buying servers, and quickly set up their own networks to connect PCs to collaborate and share documents anywhere at any time. The technology advancements tied to the Web help small businesses afford and access capabilities that were available only in large corporations just a few years ago.
Accidental entrepreneurs have discovered the value of using technology to their advantage to become successful with a minimal investment, coupled with maximum access to cloud-based services.
Following are three aspects of the techniques employed by these business professionals for others to consider as they pursue entrepreneurship:
- Mobile operations. Improvements in technology allow people to work from almost anywhere, making it easier to be productive on the road. Entrepreneurs should choose laptop computers over desktops so that they gain physical mobility within the office and the ability to work remotely. Entrepreneurs also can achieve mobility through the use of Web-based services that can provide the backbone of the company network, simultaneously furnishing secure remote access and the ability to lower or eliminate office space requirements and associated expenses.
- Technology-powered marketing. Entrepreneurs can use technology to eliminate wasted time and expenses in marketing programs. Hosted websites can be created and operated for little or no cost. Social networks can serve as free marketing platforms that engage specific market segments. With online technology, small business also can track their most profitable customers, using streamlined tools.
- Solution-powered business operations. Software solutions can keep business owners consistently up to date on fluctuating business elements, from cash flow shifts to changing market conditions. Web-based services can reduce start-up and expansion costs while allowing entrepreneurs to access advanced solutions, including productivity and communications applications, real-time business intelligence and automated customer relationship management.
With all these technological benefits, this new breed of entrepreneur is much more likely to be efficient, accessible, mobile and always connected.