The business world woke up this morning to read about the potential acquisition of Jet.com by Wal-Mart. Now, there are probably some of you who have never heard of Jet.com and that’s ok. They launched about a year ago to try to compete with Amazon in the burgeoning e-commerce space. The story of Wal-Mart is known by many because of its focus on serving millions of customers through its stores spread across this country. Yet, in today’s economy, e-commerce is driving much of the sales and growth across industries due in large part to efficiency and convenience from having to drive to a local retailer or vendor. As I like to say, technology is lowering barriers for individuals and businesses across the spectrum and allowing for a “level playing field”.
If you look at another recent headline about the U.S. economy it is clear times have changed. This Fortune article entitled, “The Five Most Valuable Companies in America All Have this in Common”, highlights that technology firms take the top spot by market cap in the S&P 500. Apple and Microsoft have been atop this list for years now. However, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook surpassed companies like Johnson & Johnson and General Electric. This trend solidifies the notion that technology is embedded into each and every one of us and impacts our daily lives. The U.S. economy may have lost factories to overseas competitors. But I challenge you to walk into any automotive plant today and see how technology and advanced manufacturing allow American companies to build more high-end products, including jet engines and wind turbines. Not to mention, those same plants are run more efficiently and look futuristic with drones able to manage inventory.
When I point to technology “leveling the playing field”, what I mean is how a small business today can compete with a more mature company that has more revenue, staff or name recognition. No doubt those are all advantages to have when running a business. But times have definitely changed. We see it everyday. A small business with a handful of staff is leveraging technology to market and sell their product on a variety of online marketplaces. Those crazy ideas aren’t so crazy anymore and turning into real businesses. Just take a look at one of our success stories, Hickies.
Yes, the world is changing. The business world understands that. Small businesses that are agile, adaptive and prepared for growth can harness online tools that larger and more established businesses are using. This will then allow a small business owner that has invested in software tools that manage process, accounting or inventory management more time to focus on running their business.