Carraghyn - Chartered Directors

The Changing Face of Business

You have a low-cost low-volume specialist product to sell. Maybe it's something that you've come across, used and want to promote more widely. Or perhaps it's of use to a very narrow subset of people who have a specific illness. There are many possible reasons why someone would like to sell (or buy) a very niche product. 

 

If you think back to how you might have approached this 20 years ago, would you have set up a shop? Probably not, the rent and the time commitment would be prohibitive for a low-cost low-volume product. Mail Order? Maybe, but the specialist / niche nature of the product might well imply national advertising in order to inform those few people who would be interested in the product, and national advertising can be very expensive. Basically, it was very difficult to take a low-cost niche product to market unless you could persuade a large retailer to carry it for you, which usually had its own complications, or engage with a number of smaller retailer to build your own distribution network. However you look at the problem, taking a product to market was a costly and time consuming business, you needed to be confident of a reasonable level of turnover and profit in order to make it work.

Skip forward 20 years, and the picture has changed completely. Websites can be very cheap (OK some people spend a fortune on them), and it costs nothing to be listed by Google, Bing and other search engines. You can take a product to market with minimal investment, and minimal risk. This has had two effects; it has made available a diversity of products which would not otherwise have made it to market, and it has introduced new micro-entrepreneurs to the world of business - people selling something specialist as a hobby, perhaps earning a few thousand pounds per annum at most. The picture, and our understanding of what we mean by "business", has totally transformed. A couple of examples: 

This site, Skin-Masque.com, was set up by a housewife in her late 50's with no prior business experience. As far as I know she hasn't had paid employment for over 30 years, although she used to work in computing in the early 1980's. The website uses a free open-source e-commerce package, so other than the stock she carries the cost of taking her handful of products to market was less than £100, which covered the domain name and web-hosting, and some hours hunched over a computer creating the information in the website. It's ranking on page 1 or 2 of Google and page 1 of Bing for her primary search terms.

Similarly, a lady who has previously always been employed by others has just created a new business and stepped into the world of self-employment for the first time as  Concept Accountancy. She used a free web design  / hosting package to construct a basic but clear website explaining what she is offering to small businesses, and promoted it using Facebook. Again, a very low cost go to market strategy.

In both cases these businesses have been established by women with little in the way of resources or backing, neither has any previous experience of creating and running their own business, and neither requires ongoing expenditure to promote or sustain the business, they are both sustainable for the long term without financial investment. Both demonstrate how the business landscape has changed, the Internet has made it easier and cheaper than ever before to set up a small business. The barriers of entry into entrepreneurship or self-employment have been massively reduced over the past two decades allowing new talents to enter business without resources or privilege behind them, bringing new ideas, new products and new services to market with less risk than at any time in my memory.

 

 

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