It occurs to me that just as the sand on The Point at Emerald Isle is continually rearranged by waves, wind, and man, so also are the businesses we define as successful.
A friend in New Jersey mentioned that a few years ago, you could hardly walk a few feet down a street without walking by a video store. Now there are none. Netflix has redefined the video business. Think about getting a propane tank filled. Blue Rhino has changed that business model completely.
Do you want to get in touch with someone today? When is the last time you wrote a letter? How long has it been since you took pictures with a camera that had real film. How many emails did you send this week? Did any of them carry a stamp?
Did you order anything off of the Internet this holiday season. Did you even go to a mall? Do you subscribe to a newspaper? When did you last buy one and turn through all the paper pages?
A lot of things are changing. People who figure out that change will be successful. Creating the businesses to make them successful might be as easy as it has ever been perhaps with the exception of government rules once they start to grow.
The entrepreneur is a key agent of change in Schumpeter's article. From the ashes of one business will rise a number of new ones.
Three years ago I wrote an article, The Instant Economy. In it I postulated the following.
I talk about how easy it is to put together the building blocks of a company from out-sourced IT services to students who already know how to use computers and understand everything from instant messaging to blogs.
In the three years since I wrote the article the trend has accelerated. Computers are cheaper, shipping services more accessible, and many services are now free. Internet phones are all over the place.
It is now possible to have a small company and some of your basic software is free. You can use Google Apps for a start-up business.
There has been a huge growth in social media. I think we are still feeling our way around it a little, but I have no question that it will somehow be a powerful force in the future.
Another trend that is starting to get even more traction is using contractors who work for companies and only get paid for results. That makes business a tough world, but the potential is there to create companies which flow together quickly and disappear just as quickly if they cannot get traction.
In the same spirit if they find a good or service that people want and are willing to buy, the growth can be unbelievable. It is much easier to scale companies now with flexible employees.
It is amazing to me how much is driven by free services with companies making money for upgraded versions.
Perhaps we have not seen how well free services will work in building companies over the long term, but the flexibility of our economy is still unmatched.
Even if you have to use the paid versions of these free services they are much less expensive than what used to pass as standard needs. For example Google apps in the professional version is only $50 per user. Microsoft Office is far more expensive.
A few hours at Staples, and you can walk away with a complete office to hook up to the Internet which is only a phone call away these days.
When I bought my first Apple II in Canada, the computer, a dot matrix printer, and a few software packages cost nearly $3000.
I am guessing that I could walk out of Staples with three computers, a networked laser printer, a network, phones, three tables, and three office chairs for under $3,000. My initial advertising would be done through blogging.
I believe this is the strength of America, we have a very unique combination of tools and people who can create businesses that create wealth. The barriers to entry are low with the exception that intelligence, creativity, persistence must be present.
I am not going to get upset if some business die. I know what it takes for success is about as accessible as it can get.
Now if I just had a great business idea.