Today, savvy entrepreneurs should be looking beyond the doom and gloom to see that it is actually a great time to start a business. Economic downturns are full of opportunity for rapid growth and the advance of technology in the past few decades has slashed the costs of getting up and running while easy access to the global labour market means skills shortages are somebody else’s problem.
Access free and low-cost technology
Free and open source technology has revolutionised the software landscape. While office applications were a virtual monopoly in the previous decade, Google Docs and Open Office are now both viable alternatives to the incumbent provider of standard office software solutions. Applications such as Skype have reduced the cost of global communication to pennies (or less) and there is a plethora of tools out there for more specialist tasks from editing audio and video footage, drawing charts and graphs, to bookkeeping and project management software.
Outsource and crowdsource your labourWith the increased digitisation of business processes, just about any job you can think of can now be done by someone on the other side of the world. Smart businesses can tap into global work exchanges including Freelancer.co.uk to identify a skilled workforce and save thousands of pounds in overheads for each ‘virtual’ employee they recruit. There are no head-hunter fees, no need for a desk, computer, company mobile or the office space to go with it and those traditionally costly jobs such as logo design can be completed at a fraction of the price you might expect to pay.
If the prospect of bootstrapping on the back of a credit card is too daunting, entrepreneurs can turn to super angels – investors who typically invest up to £25,000 in high risk start-ups with big growth potential. Another emerging alternative in the UK is crowd-funding and micro-finance where through websites such as CrowdCube British companies can secure investment from as little as £10 a head from hundreds or thousands of people.
Use the right tools
Entrepreneurs should not hesitate to capitalise on the opportunities available, from cutting costs by recruiting offshore labour, to taking advantage of free or low cost software, to raising money from super angels. These are the tools of the trade for an entrepreneur in the current climate and in the years ahead.
While a quarter of a million pound leg-up will help Tom Pellereau in his latest venture, his creativity and entrepreneurial tact in securing Walmart and Boots as stockists of his first invention, the StylFile long before Lord Sugar clapped eyes on him demonstrate that a bit of creativity and drive can go a long way.
Saif Bonar, is a manager at Freelancer.co.uk