We continue our Internet trends discussion with Tom Ehrenfeld, author of The Start-up Garden.
This is the second of 3 posts.
Small Business Trends Question #3: Has the Internet fundamentally changed the process of starting up a business? If so, in what ways?
Tom Ehrenfeld: I just don’t believe the Internet has fundamentally changed the process of starting up a business. Yet. And I believe that the fundamental process is unlikely to change radically as long as we operate under the same economic rules we do know.
To succeed, individuals will have to bring together the right mix of resources to capitalize on an opportunity they recognize as having enduring value, and they will have to grow or develop a fundamental skill set to do this in a way that is reflective, responsive, and always open to new learning and change.
I think the biggest change, both actual and coming, has to do with business metabolism – the rate at which companies go through their basic activities.
- The Internet makes it possible for people to find customers, form networks, communicate with key players, find information, process information, market to folks, and many other activities at a far greater speed. It does so while erasing barriers such as distance and formal (state or national) boundaries. And so companies that have all the elements aligned truly have the potential to grow much faster than before.
- The downside of this accelerated metabolism: companies can also fold far faster than before. Two reasons: it is harder to maintain a competitive edge in the market as a result – and the big players have more flexibility to attack you as a result.
Small Business Trends Question #4: Will the Internet open up new markets for startups, and how?
Tom Ehrenfeld: We’ve certainly seen many technology-based startups benefit from the Internet. As to the next generation of startups … let me simply cite an article I wrote for the Industry Standard several years back, and which continues to reflect my beliefs: “Small is Beautiful.”