Is It Still Cool to be an Entrepreneur in the Digital Age?

Do you even dare to think about becoming an entrepreneur given the current state of the world? And not just the current one. 

You don’t have to be an economics genius to anticipate that financial hardship will bleed out into the post-pandemic panorama. There is no clear measurement of the economic losses due to COVID-19. There won’t be any definitive ones until much later. 

Man jotting down ideas on a piece of paper.

But this hasn’t stopped you from scribbling down idea after idea as you went about your less than exciting day inside. Turns out social distancing zeroed in your focus on some really nice opportunities for financial growth. 

As you are lounging around the house you keep going through your mental list of most profitable small businesses to start. Apps, platforms, social networks. Your mind has mostly shifted toward a digitally-related approach. 

You saw the potential of something like that as soon as the first stay-at-home orders were announced to the general population. A while ago you had this nice vision about a brewery of some kind but now you’re just not sure the idea can compete with what the digital space has to offer.

The entrepreneur without funding

It’s a scene that happens all over the world. People think of creating something but drop it. You don’t lack enthusiasm, you lack ways to get funding for your business. Your stable 9 to 5 is there to offer your bruised ego a cushioned fall. 

Just how many ways are there to get funding for your business anyway? As in realistic, non-miracle investors ways. 

Breaking your piggy bank? Asking your friends and family to pitch in? None of these sound like anything long-term. And if you don’t watch your behavior you’ll turn from the wide-eyed innovator in need of a financial push into the leech whose calls no one answers anymore before you know it. 

Hammer cracking open a piggy bank.

You might get mad at those who’ve pulled back on their economic support of your idea and decide to turn to your entrepreneur brothers and sisters. 

Get ready for a hard reality check. Most of them don’t have resources to spare and if they do, they’d never admit to it. But before you judge them too harshly, think of what would you do if you were in that place? If you’re looking for a sense of community, you might as well look elsewhere. 

At best, the entrepreneurs you reach out to will respond to you in a private message telling you to keep hustling. They also won’t neglect to drop their company’s social media links in there. They gave you a pat on the back, now they have expectations of you.

Let customer experience lead the way

However, if you’re not one to get easily scared by grim entrepreneurial facts, then maybe you can start toying with the consumer and digital experience dynamic. 

Most businesses still have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to technology. And as we have been dealing with social distancing and stay-at-home orders in the past year, we all have unique examples of companies that could use innovative ideas to improve customer experience online. 

Let’s cut to the chase: the business owner who navigated 2020 with a user-friendly app, perfected chatbots and a goal-oriented social media strategy is way ahead of the game as compared to their competition lacking all these.

Opened chat box on a phone screen.

If your competitor offers your potential customer the possibility to fill an online form and communicate their concerns regarding a product or a service, you think your potential client will take the time to come to your office to do so? 

Times may be (and they currently are) that it would simply be too much at stake for them to choose to stroll over and have a face-to-face interaction. 

I can’t help but think of a particular pizza place I love that always frustrated me because they didn’t deliver. The owner smugly related to me that she has an established clientele and from a financial perspective she can afford to be in a position in which she doesn’t have to deliver. She’s closed the place down ever since the pandemic started. 

Like the pizza owner of this great pizza place, there are many others across all areas of consumption and industries tossing ideas meant to improve customer experience at the bottom of the priorities list.

The buzz of the online hangout

So you need a website and/ or a cool app for your customers. You knew that already. 

But what allows you to nurture online leads is thinking through the complete customer journey and creating a digital flow to help them navigate each relevant touchpoint.

No one’s asking you to design a full virtual reality experience for your customers to cater to their needs, but what’s your excuse for not having jumped on the digital payments and social media interactivity train? 

A hashtag symbol next to a heart.

Gone are the days when something like this would put you ahead of the game. This merely keeps you in the game. Only after you’re done with the basics you can move on to play around with innovative ideas to improve customer experience.

Taking care of your social media is perhaps one of the best examples of how in the marketing arena a seemingly banal investment can benefit you hugely. See anything that has ever gone viral from a company account. 

That’s the result of having a company’s social media supervised and actively managed. 

That’s a social media specialist just waiting for their time to shine with a clap back, a spicy meme, or a cheeky comment. 

That’s meeting customers where they hang out most – social media. 

Tech – what you give and what you get 

So what about the costs of technology interfering this much with the capitalism we’re operating on? If consumers are relying on technology more and more, what are the effects of that on the way they interact with goods and services? 

Most of those who pay attention would agree that there are quite a few problems with capitalism today as it is. 

As pleased as we are with the specifically tailored ads we’re getting… everywhere we hang online really, most of us have maybe had a thought or two about what we’re giving up in return. 

Smiling woman pointing to a dollar sign.

The direct cost of all these “free” apps and services we willingly jump on is our private information. It’s frightening to think that we surrender such sensitive info to Big Tech without any knowledge on how it will be processed. 

The exchange in itself is kind of unbalanced and unfair. On our side, we trade our personal data so that we could watch some fun content and slap some likes around. On their side, they give us access to the fun content without revealing the end goal of gathering our private info. 

Capitalism today is clearly nothing like capitalism in its conceptual form. In that version, there’s a lot more transparency in the exchange so that consumers can discern when making choices. 

This cannot be the case within an economy profiting off people’s addictions to their goods and services. The Big Tech economic model is way past accommodating clients’ needs and deep into creating dependencies.

If we want to talk about the big problems with capitalism today, looking into the predatory nature of Big Tech is a good place to start. And perhaps a new understanding of “free” markets is in order.

None of this is to say that technology is the devil. We simply have to educate ourselves more about the ways in which it continuously remodels the way we interact with businesses. And who else better to spark these conversations than the entrepreneur of the digital age.

Opinion & Commentary

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