We are seeing a growing trend of people starting their own business. Everywhere you look now, there are aspiring entrepreneurs sitting in cafes plugging away at their idea, a new Kickstarter campaign being launched or a new pop-up that aspires to become a thriving business. Is it just that these businesses are more visible or society has become more attuned to noticing entrepreneurs?
In total, the number of small businesses starting up has increased 18 per cent over the past year according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, while the number of small businesses shutting down has decreased by 12 per cent.
One reason for this trend is that it’s simply easier to start a new business.
We often look at the success of new software startups in isolation. We celebrate how Slack turned from a game developer into the world’s fastest growing workplace communication tool. We cheered as Dropbox grew from an Apple Finder hack to a cloud storage solution that millions of businesses and professionals use to be more efficient.
We are fascinated by how two young Australians met in an online chat room and ended up creating Bigcommerce, one of the biggest ecommerce platforms in the world. And we are intrigued by a Kiwi who, having successfully sold one company, decided to work with a few others in a Wellington apartment to reinvent accounting for the cloud.
What we rarely do though, is to take a step back and look at what this has meant for creating a business in the last decade. Almost without realising it, the process has undergone a complete shift.
You can now have an idea and, armed with not much more than your credit card, turn that spark into a real business. In most developed countries, the cost of registering a business is minimal, and can be done without expensive legal or admin costs. Office rent can be expensive, but the huge range of co-working spaces now available are far more affordable. If that’s too much in the early days, you can work from home or the local cafe, as many successful entrepreneurs have.
So you have your business registered, you have somewhere to work. What next?
You go about building the systems and processes that help get your business off the ground, and then scale it. Creating these processes right at the start means you can continue to grow at a rapid pace for years to come, without adding complexity or decreasing profit margins.
This is the part that used to be incredibly painful and is now easier than ever. You have zero upfront costs - no longer do you need to spend thousands of dollars on licences, servers, or boxed software. You can get your email, storage, website, marketing, inventory management, online store, customer service, and the financial platform that links them, all registered in mere minutes.
You don’t need an IT department to get your small business up and running. You don’t need a loan to purchase everything upfront. You can literally fire up your laptop or mobile device, open a web browser, and with just a credit card, get access to every system you need to run your business.
What are you waiting for? It’s never been easier to turn that idea into a real business.
Chris Ridd is the managing director at Xero Australia.