In the opening paragraph of Charles Dickens Tale of Two Cities, he writes:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.”
The two cities he was referring to were London and Paris during the turmoil of the French Revolution. For the oppressed citizens of 18th Century France, the revolution’s proclamation of the rights of man was a “spring of hope.”
Parity in business always exists, but we are in a “spring of hope” and some of the best of times for starting, launching or growing a small business. The past few years have seen an opportunistic and favorable business environment and it looks like thankfully it is poised to continue.
Here are the advantages of being a small business owner … now.
In no other time has technology made it easier for us to do business, communicate and grow on such an efficient and far reaching scale. The Web, email marketing, social media, plug-ins and apps allow us to organize and focus communication. and to help people in ways that save us time and energy and improve efficiency.
The cloud offers front end management of tasks, while many small service companies still juggle paper spreadsheets and calendars to stay organized.
POS systems let small retailers accept more than cash with a swipe. A repeat customer has a higher lifetime value than a new customer so it pays to invest in customer loyalty programs. By adding a simple plug-in app, small businesses can turn their basic Gmail service into something even more powerful.
Better Access to Credit
Although banks and credit unions are still cautious, now is a great time to seek financing. It’s gotten easier for small businesses to obtain loans.
Keri Gohman, executive vice president and head of small-business banking for Capital One recently told The New York Times:
“It’s actually a really great time to access small-business capital. Rates are low and banks are also feeling the economic recovery. We really want to lend. Small business owners can shop around and work with banks to find the best rates.”
An Improved Economy
There are so many reasons to be optimistic now and moving forward. People are finally feeling optimistic enough to invest more in themselves, their businesses and others.
The “recovery fatigue” many of us have been feeling is finally lifting and shifting from recovery to growth and people want in and to enjoy it more. Hartford’s Small Business Success Study reported in October 2014 that 77 percent of small businesses feel successful about their business operations, up from 70 percent in 2013.
The Sage Business Index (2014) indicates 58 percent of business revenue will grow in 2015 by an average of 2.5 percent.
Competition Makes Us All Better
We simply can’t become better by ourselves. It is through healthy competition that we are inspired to innovate, try new things, rebrand, stay motivated, provide stellar customer service and be a part of a community that helps and learns from each other.
Exceptional Current Resources and Help
Why do some small business owners think waiting to start or improve will help? It won’t help and there will never be a perfect time. If you have done your due diligence, research and homework then now is your best time. The resources, tools, and help are plentiful. From SBA.gov, blogs, podcasts, video, Small Business Trends and more, there is almost no question that cannot be answered or information that can’t be found.
Just search Google or Bing for anything and you will find information. A word of caution: vet the research results and people that come up and go with the most current and most credible ones.
The Personal Satisfaction
If you really want to do your own thing, be your own boss and lead your own charge, then by all means do it. But, be prepared to do business with all the assets you will need in today’s world. The personal satisfaction that comes from succeeding as your own boss is priceless and worth working for. Here’s a 30 point startup checklist for starting a business.
Flexibility with Changing Conditions
Small business operators have way more flexibility to make swift, immediate and necessary changes that are essential to dealing with shifting conditions. They’re at the top. The ability to respond quickly to market changes is a big asset you have and can use to stay ahead.
Personalized Customer Service
Most successful small businesses take the opportunity to deliver personalized, unexpected and exceptional customer service very seriously.
They usually serve a smaller area and can really get to know their customers’ needs, wants and history. Developing long term, ongoing relationships is one of the benefits that can keep customers coming back perhaps through more than one generation.
There is something very comforting and trust building about serving mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers of the same family. Small businesses can make these kinds of business relationships happen.
There are so many viable business ideas and categories if you are ready to take the plunge. There are businesses you can start for less than $100 and franchises you can buy that may be an easier way to go for budding entrepreneurs.
As entrepreneur and Forbes contributor Kevin Harrington explains:
“Sometimes you just don’t know what your market is until you try.”
Image: Deborah Shane