The Best Time To Start a New Business is Not 5 Years Ago - It’s NOW
Being a late boomer myself, born in 1960, I am very aware of the attitude that many of my contemporaries have toward technology. Many have spent their careers using Microsoft office and are comfortable with spreadsheets and word processors. But mention any social media other than Facebook and they start to look for a way to change the subject or end the conversation completely. They believe having an Amazon Prime accountant constitutes being on the cutting edge technology.
That attitude must and will change in the coming years as many boomers will need to reassess what their retirement will look like. And perhaps if retirement is even possible. While imaging themselves working the garden center at the local Lowe’s may not seem all that bad, the thought of working the counter at the local Mcdonald's will send shivers down their shrinking spines.
That is why many have looked to e-commerce as a way to supplement their retirement. Unfortunately, for many boomers, this is where their journey ends.
If you’ve seen someone who loses interest when you mention Pinterest, try bringing up drop shipping, print on demand, or affiliate marketing. They look at you like you asked them to discuss quantum entanglement.
But there is good news, no great news, for all the boomers who believe you need to be under 40 years old to make money on the internet. This news is that making money online has become dramatically less difficult in just the past few years. Things like building a website, which use to take several months, and cost thousands of dollars, can now be done in a day or two, for little or no cost.
The simplicity doesn’t stop there though, everything, let me repeat, EVERYTHING in the field of e-commerce has become faster, cheaper, and more easily hired out. It boils down to this simple fact:
“Technology is converging on simplicity.”
As an example, in 2010–2012, I launched an energy drink with the hopes of competing with 4-Hour-Energy. At that time, they weren’t only the market leader, they were pretty much the entire market. My ‘unique value proposition’ was that I targeted an older demographic. Yep, baby boomers. It included the same amount of caffeine as 4-Hour-Energy but also included resveratrol. ‘Healthy Energy for Adults’ was our tagline.
After spending a year or so researching the market, I was ready to begin the launch process. First things first, I purchase the domain for $4,000. Then hired a consultant and took a trip to Canada to work with a formulator, $10,000 +/-. I decided to try this new outsourcing thing and hired a website designer in India, $6,000. And the list goes on until I had about $50,000 and two years invested before I even placed my first order for the product.
I mistakenly believed that I needed to learn things such as search engine optimization or SEO, Facebook ads, WordPress, and HTML to name just a few. I was constantly being distracted by a new obstacle or process I thought I needed to understand. Outsourcing was available, but not as we know it today.
While being new to the industry cost me both time and money, that same situation would cost me neither today. Yes, the internet existed then, but not nearly as robust as it is today. As an example, what I learned from the consultant and the trip to Canada could easily be found online today. That alone would have saved me $10,000 and 2–4 months.
I would estimate that the initial investment of $50,000 that I spend 10 years ago would today cost me about $5,000. One-tenth the cost of just ten years ago. And the time invested would be reduced to about 3–4 months.
But the truly amazing part is that I believe the amount of my personal time invested in the project would be reduced by more than half. And I could further reduce the time investment by hiring a virtual assistant for a very small investment.
And that brings us back to the technology-challenged baby boom generation. Many of us see ourselves as trying to play Pong against millennials who are playing Fortnite. But the reality is that learning to play the e-commerce game has become far less difficult with each passing month.
Except for large corporations, websites are becoming a thing of the past, replaced by single page sites known as a ‘funnel’. Each funnel has a single possible or Call to Action (CTA). Examples of the actions are: making a purchase, entering your email address, or signing up for a webinar. The possible CTA’s are limited only by the goal of the page itself.
You no longer need to hire a website developer either. Companies such as Clickfunnels have made this a drag-and-drop process. I recently build a very simple funnel in less than an hour, with very limited experience.
It would be difficult in one blog post, or perhaps even a book, to go into detail about all the recent advances in e-commerce. However, the primary goal of most of these advances is to make e-commerce less ‘techie’.
Is the competition tough? Yes, very very tough. Are you going to succeed from day one? Probably not. And while the technology has become far easier to master or manage, becoming successful in any business requires a lot of hard work.
There’s a scene at the end of the movie The Founder, where Ray Kroc, the ‘founder’ of McDonald's, is looking at himself in the mirror, practicing a speech he is about to give. When he gets to the part about what made him so successful, he leans in, takes a long look, and says one word:
I hope I was able to convince some of you that the great technology gap has been bridged and it’s time for us boomers to stand up and be counted in the new age of e-commerce. We do actually have many advantages and we must use each of them to our benefit.
It’s no longer true that the best time to start a business was five years ago. In the entire history of the world, the best time to start a new business is NOW.