What if I told you, you could have a legitimate business up and running in under two days using just your iPad or laptop, would you believe me? Now when I say running, I mean getting all the annoying bureaucracy out the way, launching your website or online store and start selling your products. I can tell you right now exactly what tools will make all this possible.
1) LegalZoom : You will need this service to get your business incorporated and take care of other details such as trademarking.
2) Shopify/BigCartel/Wordpress : All platforms that offer the ability to launch a website or online store in a matter of minutes!
3) A camera: You want your customers to see what you're selling right? :)
And there you have it. Really, thats it. Pretty sure I am not missing anything else. Now why am I giving this information away you might ask. First of all, I don't mind helping anyone with an entrepreneurial bent. I enjoy the spirit of entrepreneurship. Secondly, this is information anyone can figure out with just a little effort invested in research (Google is awesome isn't it?) .
And lastly you will find out soon enough that starting the business means nothing in the grand scheme of things. I'll explain later.
The age of the internet has made an insane amount of information and data so readily available to us commoners. As a result anyone can learn just about anything in no time flat. Another thing the internet has done, is democratize a lot of things. And one of them, is being able to start a business. About twenty years ago, to start a business would have required a lot more. A detailed business plan for would be investors, initial capital, an accountant and a lawyer, were very common ingredients back then. Not to mention the prohibitive cost of hosting an online store back in late 90s early 2000s, was enough to make anyone think twice about venturing into the entrepreneur jungle.
Anyone can start a business from anywhere at anytime.
Fast forward to 2013, you have an alarming rate of businesses popping up all over the place. To be honest the rate is quite alarming. So much so that I am sure everybody knows at least one persons trying to start a business or is already running one. This culture of entrepreneurship has become so popular that it has found home in mainstream view. The movie, "Social Network" really romanticized the idea of starting a company from nothing to a massive success. The reality TV show "Shark Tank" really puts things in perspective. Every episode features average people like you and I looking for the "rags to riches" experience.
With the ubiquitous nature of entrepreneurship, you soon realize a small problem for any future entrepreneur.
Whats this problem? Well noise and and unbelievable amount of competition. The massive rise in entrepreneurs has given rise to a lot of noise in every industry. Since anyone can start a business with very little effort and risk, suddenly you have a lot of businesses competing for market share. You are no longer viewed as a maverick taking on a risky venture. Rather you are now one in a million voices of business owners competing for attention.
Lets consider the analogy of street performers. Say you have a very popular street with a lot of foot traffic. And say there is a street performer on that street known for his illusions and magic tricks. At the moment this street performer is the only guy known for his performance and he is regularly acknowledged by on lookers, and gets a good amount of attention and payment from these amused onlookers. Now say a week later, this same street is suddenly accommodating more performers who also perform similar illusions and magic tricks. What happens, is the original street performer that was once loved and revered, is now no longer that remarkable. What made him unique is now completely diluted as onlookers now have options. All the other street performers have stolen his spot light. He is now one among many. There is nothing remarkable about him anymore. This is exactly the nature of the new problem plaguing new businesses. Everyone is doing the same thing while vying for the attention of the same customers.
Consider the graphic tee business. When my brothers and I started our business, we had no idea just how many indie clothing brands were out there. We assumed maybe a couple hundred. We were completely way off. Really really really way off. There is at least 1000 indie clothing brands on Big Cartel alone. And everyday a new one pops up. Each one pretty much trying their best to get in front of customers.
And the competition is fierce. With each brand trying to one up the other in the form of discounts, competitive pricing and brute force advertising, you end up with a customer base that has more than their fair share of choices. With each new business that joins the party, everyone becomes less remarkable.
So how does one survive this perfect storm? Well, I have no absolute answer for this. And to make matters worse my only suggestion is going to sound really stupid and obvious. HARD WORK. Work really really hard. The cost of starting a business may have gone down significantly, but that decrease in cost has been offset by a significant increase in the effort required in making a business successful. No longer is it just ok to say "I have an online store" and expect a sudden surge of traffic. You now have to create engaging and amazing content that your customers will appreciate. You now have to make sure your customers are in love with your product and the service you provide. For if they are not, they will simply go else where.
Your ability to be creative is going to be put to task. Remember, now is all about being remarkable.
My brothers and I work hard at staying remarkable. We try to create remarkable graphic tees you wouldn't find anywhere else on the web. We strive on being absolutely unique. Our anime graphic tees are not based on licensed works. We make sure that anyone who sees them, would be hard press to find something similar else where. This is our weapon in this gladiator arena.
I suggest you find yours. What is your leverage? Is it your excellent customer service? Or your ability to make your customers feel really good about themselves? What sets you apart thats worth talking about? This is what you have to figure out for yourself.
So just because the barriers to starting a business have been all but eliminated, doesn't mean the barriers to success have met the same fate. If anything the barriers to success have been fortified.