The more we can do for ourselves as small business owners, the more empowered we feel. We are in charge. Like we can whip the world.
That was my point in an interview I gave recently. Journalist Leah Betancourt wrote about it for KCCI.com, in a small business trends segment:
Campbell said she’s seeing a lot of do-it-yourself small businesses and self-serve business owners, especially with sole proprietors and businesses with less than five employees. She said the Internet has a lot to do with it.
She said owners could use online advertising campaigns with tools such as Google AdWords without having to hire an agency. She also mentioned small business accounting software packages such as QuickBooks in which entrepreneurs don’t have buy expensive accounting systems.
To some degree do-it-yourself has always been the hallmark of small businesses, especially for startups. In the early years, revenues are lean. Employees are scarce. You may have little choice but to do something yourself, or it doesn’t get done.
But the kind of self-serve that I speak of is more than just a matter of economics — it is an attitudinal shift. In fact, our entire society is making this shift. We are conditioned to use ATM machines more frequently, and human tellers less. The way we buy cars is different today — we educate ourselves online about the product before we ever set foot in a dealership. We make travel arrangements online, without ever interacting with another human being. We sign up for, renew or cancel services by using touch-tone phones and bots that do speech recognition.
Small business owners and managers are going through a similar shift. Technology — in particular the Internet — makes it possible for us to do more for our businesses.
But the really interesting thing is that services have not gone away. They have just changed. While we small businesses may use accounting software to keep our books, the majority of us still have accountants. But instead of our accountants being number-crunchers, they give us advice, help us do tax planning, and other value-add activities. In other words, when we use outside services, we may be using them for higher level purposes, precisely because we have the tools that let us automate routine tasks and do them ourselves.