We hear a lot about how modern technology and innovation has made it easier to run a business than ever before. And in truth, there’s a lot of merit to the argument that, in 2020, there are people running businesses who would have struggled to do so just a few short decades ago. There are very clear ways in which modern methods and inventions have changed the way we do business for the better.
If you’re waiting for a “but”, then here it is: it’s easier to do business now, but just as there have been developments in how modern businesses operate, there have been new problems presented as a result of that same march of progress. It sometimes seems that as soon as we drive one problem out, a different one arises. So while the innovators of the 80s and 90s may look at the field available to the 2020s business owner and imagine they would have an easy time making hay in it, let it be noted that modern businesses have modern problems to deal with. They aren’t necessarily any easier to solve than the old ones.
There is more competition than ever before
It is, for sure, easier for you to start a business now than it ever was before. The thing is, that statement is true for everyone reading this, and also everyone who isn’t. When you add all of those people together, that’s everyone, period. So it may be easier to start a business, but there is also a very packed field out there, and it is not easy to differentiate yourself when there are so many other “yous” jostling for attention. You have to be very good, very original or very loud to get customers to notice you.
It’s not just customers you’ll be fighting for, either. When you’re hiring staff, it’s worth being aware that your competitors will be competing for the same staff as well. Employees will always have options – and that’s before you even get to the point of realizing that the very best employees will always have the option of going into business themselves – using the know-how that they picked up while working for you!
The threats to a modern business are many and varied
It’s not just other businesses that you have to worry about as we begin the third decade of the 20th century. There are countless ways that your business can encounter external difficulties that take a lot of time and money to solve – and those ways only increase the more technologically advanced the world of business becomes. The internet has been sensationally beneficial for the business world – and it has also been the source of so many of its headaches.
Nothing can prepare you for knowing that your business has been the victim of a data breach. It threatens everything you have worked for, and is liable to terrify your customers who won’t know what information has been compromised. Businesses have to work twice as hard in the aftermath of such a breach just to hold on to what they have. That’s why any business will pay top dollar for the network security management skills of a true professional. Every day, hackers get smarter. So your digital infrastructure needs to make sure it does the same.
Businesses need to consider social responsibility
It’s not uncommon to hear former titans of industry suggest that the problem with the modern business world is that “everyone’s gone soft”. The implication is that with tough, no-nonsense types like them in control, a business could destroy its lily-livered competition. This is almost certainly untrue, of course. The methods that worked in the past worked, by and large, because the past was the perfect place for them to work. These days, employees, customers and communities are more aware of their rights, and businesses that are prepared to breach those rights are more likely to face consequences.
It’s not a bad thing that businesses of the modern day face greater social responsibilities; if anything, it makes them more agile and considerate. But it also means that you have more paperwork and more regulations to remember, and need to find time to fit these responsibilities around what you do as a business. From environmental considerations to treating fellow employees and customers with the appropriate level of respect, the tariff of ethics has never been higher, and there are dangers for those who fall foul.
Natural and man-made disasters are an ever-present threat
Whether it be a tornado-force storm, or a mass-casualty attack, there is no shortage of potential disasters that can befall a town or a city, or any business within those towns and cities. With turbulent times never far away in a political sense, as well as the ever-present danger of random attacks, a business needs to be fully prepared for such dangers to strike. You will also, depending on your location, have to consider the very real threat of a climate disaster – events which are becoming more common.
Not least, you will also have to consider the risk of something which has become very clear in recent weeks – the risk of a pandemic breakout such as Coronavirus is something that has become more of a threat due to the ease with which people can now move across countries and indeed the world. Again, affordable air travel has been extremely beneficial on balance, not least for businesses. It has, however, presented challenges such as this and the need to be ready for them, from plans on what to do if someone falls ill at work to how you should proceed if your area is advised to self-quarantine, among other questions.
Governments change, and laws can change with them
There’s no two ways about it, political change is something that has been accelerating worldwide in recent times, and for any business trying to surf the prevailing waves it has been a tricky time – especially for a multinational business which may have to change its plans repeatedly to take account of multiple changes. The pace of change is one thing, but the extent of it can be quite another; one political trend we are seeing more and more is that new governments will often seek to undo the headline legislation of their predecessors – which can mean that you literally have to rewrite your own rulebook if you are a business owner.
It doesn’t matter whether these changes align with your own personal politics, or chafe against them in a significant way; if your business is to be successful it will need to operate within the law – and that means being aware of any changes in legislation that may affect your business. This is particularly noteworthy if you work within the fields of healthcare, education or anything else that could be considered public service or adjacent to it.
There are certainly advantages to launching a business in the modern age, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for meaning that the difficulties modern businesses face have gone away, or that new ones do not arise. Many of the qualities that have long been needed for anyone who wants to succeed in business remain in place now – an ability to move with changing times, spot talent and nurture it, and see opportunities in the market. There are plenty of new and unique challenges for the modern business owner to face, ones that are a product of the modern age – and it is an ability to work around and within those challenges that will deliver results.