I believe that it's easier to succeed with small businesses than ever before. There are more opportunities for entrepreneurs to start small businesses today than at any previous time.
Here are some good reasons for why I believe this is true.
A) With the increase in population comes an increase in opportunities for small businesses.
Generally, a sparse population requires a small business owner to provide a wide variety of goods or services to survive. With a denser population, the small businesses can still survive by providing a very narrow range of products or services.
For example, in a smaller population a small business which provides gardening services would probably need to offer many things. Services could include general garden maintenance, planning, tree felling, lawn cutting, vermin control, pond planning and maintenance, hard landscaping etc.
With a bigger population a small business could thrive perfectly well by providing just one of these services, as there are more people who will need it.
B) The costs involved in starting and running small businesses has never been so low in proportion to income.
Technology has replaced many of the things which people used to do, and technology does the job a lot more cheaply.
Today it's possible to reach literally millions of potential customers around the world very cheaply.
For example, only a few decades ago the cost of mailing to thousands of households was prohibitively high. Unless you had a very good product or service which sold well, a small business just wouldn't risk it.
Another example, business premises security used to involve security guards walking around checking that all was well. Now a good security system can be bought for less than 1 week's pay for that security guard, and it will work 24 hrs per day for years, for no pay.
C) Because modern life is so complex today, small businesses and individuals are open to new ideas, products and services like never before.
This creates a huge market for training courses, information provision services, educational aids, specialised products and services, novelties, etc.
With this great diversity come great opportunities to combine different products and technologies, thus making whole new areas of business possible.
For example, you can combine a low-light camera with wireless communications and a bird box. This means a nest may be watched remotely on a television or personal computer screen.
Another example would be to combine voice-chip technology with passive infrared technology to make it sound as though you have a huge dog indoors whenever anyone approaches your house.
In our recent history, these opportunities just didn't exist.
D) It may not feel like it, but many people today have a lot more leisure time and a higher disposable income than in any previous age.
This spare income (and with the current attitudes to loans, a little more besides) tends to get spent on sports, games, hobbies, crafts, amusements, entertainments, holidays and weekend breaks etc.
This creates many opportunities for the entrepreneur to start up small businesses to satisfy all this extra demand.
E) To thrive in a modern society you need to have a lot of different skills.
Nowadays people cope with a variety of complex tasks. They buy and use a wide range of consumer equipment, fill out many forms, and communicate with all kinds of people from all walks of life (often from different countries and cultures). They also do difficult transactions like house purchasing, and so on.
All this is a long way from the average people who were around just a few hundred years ago. Many were farm labourers who could barely read or write and never travelled more than a few miles from home.
So now, the pool of potential business people is far greater than ever before. If a person can live well in a modern society, they already have the abilities they need to start up a small business enterprise and succeed.
The good news also is that if you lack a certain skill which your small business needs, then you can probably employ someone with that skill far more easily than ever before.
F) More people have access to money than ever before.
Until the late 1960s, most people were paid weekly and spent money as they earned it.
It was normal among manual workers to run right out of money around the time of their next pay packet, which often contained notes and coins!
Today most people have many bank accounts (with overdrafts) and access to credit cards, which alone have spending limits equal to a half or full year's income.
Savings and share holdings are greater than ever before. A large proportion of the population can raise money on their house and if they don't mind paying a high interest percentage, they can borrow with no security at all.
A great variety of people and institutions are now willing to lend money for good small businesses proposals.
With access to credit, you can buy the product, ship it to the customer and get paid before you have to pay for the goods which you sold. This just wasn't possible until very recently.
G) Advice, courses and books about starting small businesses are within easy reach of everyone.
Researching your chosen business area has never been easier with the Internet so readily available.
Not so long ago, you would have needed to buy many books and read them all to get the specific information you required. Now you can ask a search engine very specific questions and get very specific answers, almost immediately.
This frees up small businesses and enables them to be far more productive and enterprising.
H) If you start a small business today you have an immense amount of technology available to you.
Computers, printers, copiers, audio and video recording and playback equipment, telephony and the internet are all easily available to any entrepreneur wanting to get started in a new small business enterprise.
Not long ago, the average multi-national company lacked the computing, communicating and printing power available to the ordinary person today.
You can probably think of at least 6 different ways to get a simple message to someone on the other side of the world. 5 of those messages would typically arrive less than 1 minute after you sent them.
Just 100 years ago, (and remember mankind has been around for about 3 million years) this same message would have involved horses and steam ships and would have taken months.
This massive improvement in technology (especially in communications and information) has really opened up the field to the individual who wants to go ahead with a new small business venture.
I) Small businesses starting up today have far more choices available to them.
In previous times, it was quite common for there to be only a few companies that they could go to, to buy business supplies. Whatever business you care to name, you would not find many suppliers of the materials needed to conduct that business.
Unless your business is in a very specialist area, you will now find you can source your supplies from a great many firms. This in turn drives your costs down, as you can shop around for the best deals.
For example, there used to be very few ways to get your goods delivered to your customers. Nowadays you could chose from literally hundreds of different carriers.
New companies can chose anywhere in the world to set up their small businesses, or indeed where to place any part of their business.
I know of a successful paintball company, which operates in the UK in summer. But when the business falls off due to the cold winter, they find new customers by simply moving the company to Brazil, and then return the following spring.
They also take advantage of the cheaper labour in Brazil to manufacture the paint balling equipment, and when back in the UK use the greater expertise in the UK to program their systems.
Not so long ago this flexibility of operating a small business would have been totally impractical.
There are far more opportunities to start small businesses than ever before and entrepreneurs who do start new small businesses at home are more likely to succeed.
There are more potential customers, it costs less to start up and you have more choice over the kind of business to go into. Other benefits are a more skilled and educated workforce, and easy access to financial support.
If you do want your own enterprise, you can also use the power of the Internet to carry out good and fast research, and to support your business in many ways. I believe there has never been a better time to start up new small businesses.