Technology – in particular portable technology – has transformed the life of entrepreneurs in the last decade. When I started out as a freelance journalist, there were no iPhones; you went into the office, where you checked your messages written on post-its and typed up your stories, checking facts on the slow dial-up connection. You wrote down your interviews on paper. If you were the editor, and the magazine was flush, you might have a chunky Blackberry to slowly check your emails away from the office. But today with flexible working, WiFi, and cloud collaboration, it’s possible to run your business entirely from home, or the café down the road.
The smartphone and social media
On June 29, 2007, the first iPhone was released, and then all the other mobile phone manufacturers had a race on their hands to make phones that were as desirable and had the same functionality. Though it’s undeniable that there were bugs in those early phones, and they ate through your data allowance, in the last ten years what you can do on a phone has changed irrevocably.
Hand-in-hand with the growth of the smartphone has been the usage of social media. As social media becomes more and more entrenched in our daily lives, so small businesses are using it with great effectiveness to reach out to potential customers in greater numbers; Sarah March, owner of Kent-based yoga practice KentKundalini said: “Where previously a lot of my clients came through word of mouth, social media is essential to my marketing now.”
But has this empowering connectivity also taken a toll? We respond to emails late into the night, social media buzzes at us with its bright blue glow 24-7, and does today’s entrepreneur ever really take time to switch it all off?
As a freelance journalist, I’ve always worked from home. Previously though, I had to borrow the work laptop, plug it into a modem and connect to the network via Remote Desktop. Now most places, I just jump on WiFi on my tablet, laptop or phone. All of which I can make notes on, or record interviews with. Using the cloud I can backup and protect my data, and collaborate with team members anywhere in the world
In fact, the ability to work from anywhere has been one of the most important changes to the lives of entrepreneurs in the last decade, though can also be a poisoned chalice, as you find yourself answering emails from the beach.
A recent study estimates that the average person spends nearly two hours per day on social media, and many point out in order to have a happy work-life balance we need to make some time to get away from the technology. If you’re still struggling to put your phone down – there are even various apps which can help you step away from the screen!
The next 10 years?
Now that we can easily design a website, record videos, post photos or record music, people are turning their smartphones and laptops into mixing desks, film studios and online stores. Today’s business owner must be prepared to embrace a multimedia world; emailing, tweeting, posting, updating, Skype-ing, YouTube-ing, as well as dealing with clients face-to-face. As we move further into another decade, who knows what technological innovations will come next to help our businesses flourish?