The New Entrepreneurial Landscape
with Khellar Crawford
with guest Khellar Crawford #MakingBank S5E9
Nowadays, it seems like small businesses are popping up to solve problems we didn’t know we had. Before COVID, and even while during it, startups were the next craze that’s swept over the financial sector in a way they haven’t before. There are thousands of classes online, YouTube videos, articles, and degrees centered on the tips and tricks of becoming a successful founder. The Making Bank Podcast itself curates an audience of those in every stage of their entrepreneurial life, an audience that may not have been so large twenty years ago.
So, what’s changed?
On a recent episode of Making Bank, Khellar Crawford, discusses how people’s income streams have changed and the rise of small businesses or online businesses in recent years. After a bad car accident, Crawford found himself suffering injury and total financial hardship. With a background in entrepreneurship and in bootstrapping companies into seven figure revenue streams, Crawford founded Otomo, a platform that enables customers to individualize their money management plan based on different income streams.
In looking at his episode and past episodes, we will examine why and how the atmosphere around entrepreneurship has changed.
The first point that Crawford brings up is how people’s income streams have changed over the years. He says, “People earn more differently today than they ever have. Especially with COVID, you have people with intermittent income, that’s unpredictable from multiple streams.” He explains that “how we earn is so different from person to person, especially in this modern time where it’s as easy to turn on a new app and start earning a new revenue stream.”
This method could be something pretty involved like selling your crafts on Etsy or making extra income from monetized YouTube videos. Or it can be as simple as joining an app that allows you to capitalize one what you already have, like property with Airbnb. So many different technologies help people build an extra revenue stream, from people completing tasks for businesses through an app to content creators who get sponsorships and sell brand merchandise. In essence, he is saying that more people have a “side hustle” today than before, which diversifies their income streams. While some remain a side hustle, there are plenty of stories in which a part-time project flourished into established business that employs others.
While post-World War II America convinced the population to work for a major corporation and stick with it for life, the post ’08 recession era has fostered a more diverse view on how to earn a living. While this is due to many factors, the attitude towards entrepreneurship has shifted to one that is more inclusive and encouraged.
New Funding Options
As many people who began side projects started generating higher demand for their products or services, new funding options have allowed them to grow. Traditionally, startups would need funding from the venture capital world, angel investors, Silicon Valley, etc.
The issue with obtaining this funding, however, is that not everyone has access to these circles. In order to have the opportunity to just be able to pitch to investors, you must physically be in the right location, know the right people, and understand how the industry works. If you’re a founder with a great product, great demand, and great work ethic, you may not get the opportunities that you deserve. Investors may not be as open to you if you don’t resemble a traditional entrepreneur.
While this still rings true, small business owners now have other options. With crowd sourcing platforms such GoFundMe, entrepreneurs can acquire funding from all over. Some founders may receive just enough to get them started, while others may garner unexpected numbers. Crowd sourcing platforms also spread awareness of the product and help generate demand.
Free Marketing and Space
Just with income streams and funding, the marketing of your brand or product becomes much easier. With the advent of social media, entrepreneurs can build a strong online presence that helps promote their product and company. Before COVID and especially now, an online brand can make or break your business. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms can aid you in spreading information about your services. They also help you accomplish this for free, and at an international level, depending on your following. Overall, social media platforms offer a solution to the barriers to marketing and advertisements for small companies.
Technology also helps to cut down on other costs, unrelated to marketing. For example, if your product doesn’t need a physical hands-on team, it’s possible to build your company remotely. With services such as Zoom, Monday, and Slack, entrepreneurs are finding new ways to save money on office space. COVID has only accelerated the progression towards more entirely remote businesses. If companies can pivot in time and its feasible for them to fully embrace an online life, they can avoid the cost of high rent and sink more money into their business.
Whether you’re a graduate from an elite school in Silicon Valley, or a drop out with a great idea in the middle of America, technology has afforded entrepreneurs more opportunities and ways to make, and save, more money. The landscape of entrepreneurship is changing to be a more inclusive realm, with people of all backgrounds now having the opportunity to access investments, marketing, and strategies.
Some may feel that this more accessible sector saturates the financial world and leaves investors wading through almost too many options. However, as we’ve seen with successful minority- and women-run companies, they oftentimes provide a service or fulfill a need that the traditional financial sector is unaware of or hadn’t originally valued. While customers determine which companies fail and which excel, the VC world acts as a vetting process for what the customers actually see. With technology that allows for inclusivity in entrepreneurship, a greater number of businesses are given a chance to succeed in the first place. While not every business will flourish, they deserve an equal opportunity to try.