There was a time, not so long ago, when big was big. We had the “Big Three” automakers, three big television networks, two superpowers, and so on. Needless to say, things have changed, a lot. Back then, small business was a little deal. Today small business is a big deal. The biggest deal.
Whether it’s maverick entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg who started small and went on to change the world, or the rising tide of small businesses that are raising all economic ships, these days, little is the new big.
- There are 30 million businesses in the U.S., and today, 99% of those are small businesses. Most of those are one-person businesses;
- More than half of the working population now works in a small business;
- Small businesses have generated over 65% of net new jobs since 1995.
This begs the question; how did such a fundamental shift occur in such a short period of time? There are three interconnected trends that have combined to make this the golden age for small business:
1. A shift in attitudes: I recently returned from a business trip to Europe and had the chance to visit Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin. The flashpoint of east-west tensions, the Berlin Wall was a physical manifestation of the bi-polar, big-is-big world. When the wall fell and communism crumbled, so too did this thinking.
It was also right around this time that China’s capitalist turn really began to pay dividends, as it had in Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and so on. As a result, small businesses are now booming throughout Asia. This is in fact a trend we are seeing worldwide.
2. Technology: Coinciding with this shift in attitudes has been the technological computer revolution we are all witness to. It used to be that an entrepreneur could be just that – an entrepreneur. But that’s not enough these days. Today you have to let your inner geek out if you are going to succeed in the small business game, and that’s a good thing.
Whether we are talking about hardware, software, apps, printers, the cloud, social media, or what have you, the savvy entrepreneur will take advantage of all that technology has to offer these days.
And that brings me to the third shift powering the small business revolution:
3. The Internet. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a small business was stuck in its neighborhood. If the local economy was good, that was good enough.
One of the best things about the Internet vis-à-vis small business is that it has enabled any small business to escape the tyranny of being wedded only to the local economy. Any small business can now be a global business thanks to the Web.
Beyond that, the Internet evens-out the playing field. Online, any small business can look as big, and as professional, as any other business - and doing so is easy and affordable.
The bottom line is that today, no one needs to know that you are running your global empire out of your spare bedroom, and that is why this is the greatest time ever for small business. You and your small business are in good company.
Little is the new big.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.
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