What does it take to achieve financial independence? Well, the truth is that there are and there there have been many ways through which people have achieved financial freedom.
While success in the past may have come from social and political connections for instance, in today's business environment for instance, success comes from taking advantage of today's better circumstances; you do not need to know anyone to excel in business! Let me explain:
The Ease of Starting a Business in Today's Business Environment
Many things have made starting a business easier than it has ever been; the development of technology is key among these things. More precisely, starting a business is many times easier today than it was 20 years ago because of advances in communication have made it easier and convenient for businesses to connect and communicate with buyers. The internet has specifically made it easier to access information about anything. This is undeniably important in starting and managing any business.
Technology has had a tremendous positive effect, an effect millions of people are taking full advantage of to start and grow their businesses. Avenues such as mail, text, and instant messaging, video, live streaming, social media, and other budding tools have been among the most fascinating things technology has given the business world, giving it a major face lift.
That's not all; many aspects of starting and conducting a business have radically changed. For instance, the way businesses engage in transactions and marketing to consumers has taken on a completely new life of its own. One of my friends described technology five years ago; He said, “Technology is support brought to us by nature that we simply can not refuse. It makes it a lot easier to start a business and feel safe doing it.”
A lot of this fundamental shift in the way we conduct business today goes back to the constant change in technology and the way people go about exchanging money. Below are two of the numerous areas where we have experienced major changes in how we do business.
We will discuss them in a bit more detail so we can get a glimpse at what tech has changed.
Twenty years ago, the widespread public use of the Internet was still in its infancy. People were still getting over the wow-factor of building websites, using basic functions of the internet, learning new ideas, acquiring themselves with the use of email, and corporations were really competitive to control the online marketplace. Google, Facebook, Amazon, and others emerged as central hubs of contemporary commerce in the digital domain.
Since then, we have seen the coming of age of technologies such as social bookmarking, social networking, search engine optimization, and other types of digital traffic generation. Today, these opportunities exist as a standard basis of operation in an enduring effort to grow sales volume on the internet.
The blogosphere, affiliate programs, and email lists that have auto-responders have come up as equally worthwhile avenues businesses can use to reach out and market to consumers. Currently, the internet has realized profits worth billions from the number of business transactions occurring online.
Modern business owners have a completely new perspective and outlook on marketing to consumers, and one demonstration of this is through the shift from traditional print advertisements and the ongoing efforts to create and develop company websites. The search for new ways to take advantage of the internet to produce new means of tapping into untapped online traffic continues.
A few decades ago, we had very little experience on mobile payments or any experience with touch-screen product access especially in retail establishments. The emergence of modern point of sale systems (POS) has done a lot in offering modern retailers a great deal of benefit in optimizing their sales volume. By giving clients direct to on-site products and many payment options, POS systems make it cost effective and efficient to run a retail business.
Automation, a method that allows for inventory control measures, has fully revolutionized the current means of tracking and ordering inventory. Other developments such as mobile payments are still spreading fast.
That's not all; with technology, new types of products have come into existence. Books are no longer the print books we used to have back in the days for instance; there are various digital versions of books (e-books), which are increasingly being consumed daily. This obviously requires a different method of product access and delivery to the customers (all done electronically), a phenomenon that has opened doors for limitless options on what someone can sell. Gone are the days when you could only stock physical goods when running a business- digital goods are taking over and presenting with them new forms of efficiency that allows businesses to run something on autopilot and on minimum costs while targeting customers all over the world. That was unheard of in the past! What's even more interesting is the way payments are processed; it is just in ways many of us could not fathom a few years ago. You can receive payment from someone living in a different country without having to go to any bank and feel safe that your money is safe. The revolution of payments (which is automated) allows businesses to accept payment for goods and services day in day out from anywhere in the world (it does not matter which their offices are closed- with a website and payment systems set, everything takes place seamlessly.
We could go on and on about how technology has developed because it evidently has, in hundreds of ways. Technology has made it starting a business a lot easier than it was two decades ago.
For instance, because advances in communication have made it possible for information to travel quicker and more effectively, distance barriers have disappeared and many businesses are wholly exploiting options such as outsourcing overseas. Businesses can now outsource duties like telephone customer service, live chat, blog and article writing, and computer programming, and this is just one of the numerous aspects of outsourcing. Moreover, businesses can now offer live support through a wide array of digital channels like mobile phones (Skype, WhatsApp etc.), live chat on their website, phone calls, social media and much more; the options are just limitless on how to reach out to past, current and potential customers to maximize sales and customer experience. Much of this can be done on the move; you do not need to be appointed in an office to offer support; you could be out and about, at home, touring the world, in a different continent etc. , which essentially means you do not have to babysit the business to make it successful!
Technology has also made it easier to seek help or support. With the internet, the possibility of reaching hundreds of successful entrepreneurs and mentors is now possible through many platforms such as social media. By doing something as simple as typing words on the internet, you can reach many mentors who are willing to help startups in different and unique ways.
Many people out there have taken full advantage of the change we have today and the current opportunities to create wealth from entrepreneurship.
It is your prerogative to take advantage of the current state of affairs – the ease of doing business today; it has not always been like this!
A Stroll Down Memory Lane: The Business Environment of Yester Years
Let us take a trip down history and for comparison purposes, look at the state of doing business in the past.
First, in the past, there was a clear line between professional and private life. There were no phones, fancy tablets on which to check the stock market information at the comfort of your home, or laptops to carry work from your office to your house.
Before the 1990s, it was not easy to run business when you are away from it as we do today thanks to smartphones. Making calls outside payphones at gas stations was the norm and calling your employees or partners each time you had something new was obviously not easy back then.
It was even tougher getting work from different places; this is contrary to the online leads we have today. In 1994, there was a telemarketer. Business leads came through calls and sometimes referrals from a partner. Imagine that! It would take forever to grow, I imagine.
Globalization has also changed the business scene. In the past, only large businesses had the capacity to trade abroad. It was even more difficult to operate a business in more than one country.
In the past, licensing and other regulatory measures were tedious in part to vexatious government bureaucratic tendencies that would make one hate themselves for thinking about starting his / her own business. At least today, governments have changed some policies and adopted others that make it easier to conduct business in multiple countries.
Because of a lack of efficient communication and other technology such as the Internet, in the past, it was difficult to access support from experts or contact mentors. In the past, you would have to go through the trouble of meeting someone (usually marred by transport problems) to ask for technical help and guidance.
Looking at these things, you will unduly agree with me when I say the internet has changed how entrepreneurs start and conduct business.
Nonetheless, things are not perfect, at least not for many people. Here is what I am talking about:
Doing Business Today: Modern Business Challenges
Even with the world having gone through massive changes such as those we have discussed – technology making it easy to start and manage businesses and expert mentors all over the world (often a click away) ready and willing to help – most of us are still not feeling confident or positive enough to start our businesses. For some, it is not a mere lack of confidence; they lack capital while others lack additional financial support from local lenders. They have very good business ideas but can not implement them simply because they lack the funds to do so. Other people have enough capital but can not lay out any good business idea.
I have personally met a few who have very good business ideas and the capital to start a business, but they never do so because “they find it difficult to leave their corporate jobs.” from scratch, or merely stick to the “I think it's too late” platitude.
This means that even with the world having changed, excuses, obstacles, and different kinds of pitfalls continue to exist; However, one thing is for sure, the starting-a-business challenges that may affect you today do not compare to those of starting a business in the past.
Who Wins & Who Loses
The truth is; it is much easier to start and grow a business to unfathomable levels than it is to climb the corporate ladder; there are many startups that are less than 5 years old that are averaging over a million dollars a year with very few employees to support the business. The question is; how long do you think it will take for your 9-5 to pay you a million dollars or even half of it? You decide!
Even with the current opportunities; there will be winners and losers in life. The winners are those that will choose to take the leap of faith and start taking action as far as starting their own businesses goes (you do not have to quit your day job!) And losers will be those who decide to play safe.
With me acting as your guide through the maze of everything you need to know in respect to starting a successful business, I believe you will see things differently and take full advantage of the current existing favorable business environment even when it has its fair share of obstacles you will unduly have to tackle.
The solution to every obstacle is often simple. It only requires that you change how we think, and extremely, how we do things. As entrepreneurs in the pursuit of real financial freedom, we have to realize that we are working in a rat race kind or world; we therefore need to change our way of doing things. It is impossible to imagine the joy that comes with knowing we have escaped the rat race and are making more money, working less hours on our terms, all the while making a difference in people's lives.
START by changing the thought that working hard at our day jobs – usually in the corporate sector – is all we need to make it in life or is the easier option to achieving our ambitions and financial freedom.
With my little wealth of experience, I have realized that working hard for somebody else is like the proverbial hamster wheel for many people. You work round the clock, and your rewards (compared to your work value), which may be just above peanuts, never seem to be enough and a promotion is never a guarantee.
I can still recall a close friend telling me that after she started thinking about starting a business of her own, she would quickly dismiss the ideas simply because she lacked confidence to pursue that dream.
One day, she went to one of her directors with a load of ideas about how to increase productivity in her company by streamlining the sales department. The director only turned to her and said softly, “The day you become a director of your own company is the day you get to implement this.” She said that it was in that moment that she decided to start her own company, and she did.
She went into the corporate world because of her high ambition; she also wanted money and respect. She worked her way up only to find out the truth about the 'glass ceiling. 'She was working up to 80 hours per week for peanuts.
Starting your own business is the only guaranteed path to financial freedom. It worked for my lady-friend (she now owns a therapy complex) and it will undo work for you.
She merely followed simple rules that people who win, or rather, people who make it and become wealthy follow. The people who win at life and business are those that:
1. Desire to start early so that they can gain enough experience and in good time.
2. Have the passion to learn the ins and outs of a business.
3. Are eager fast learners and observers; if they are not fast learners, they are willing to do whatever it takes to learn.
4. Know how to adapt to any given situation because they have their eyes firmly on the prize.
5. Strive to achieve continuous personal development at all levels.
6. Seek teachers and do not needarily try to reinvent the wheel. They listen to the experts and make good wise decisions based on expert guidance.
7. Seek help of like-minded individuals. In the world of business, no man is an island.
As for the losers, those who lose even with the opportunities that exist today are those:
1. People who are afraid to try new things.
2. People who are lazy, and do not have sense of personal responsibility.
3. People who are unobservant.
4. Who are close minded
5. Who refuse to learn and read books, attend seminars.
6. Who are too proud because they think they know everything already.
I can sum up the above in this quote:
“To get what you want, you have to deserve what you want. The world is not yet crazy enough place to reward a whole bunch of undeserving people.”
-Charles T. Munger, billionaire business partner of Warren Buffet