The popularity of cheaper alternatives speaks for itself after a recent survey found that 94 per cent of entrepreneurial companies use free or low-cost technology and services on a day-today basis.
For my company, which operates across 4 continents, technology is crucial. Communicating regularly with business partners, staff and clients is important especially when you are on different continents. I use everything from telephones and Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol (VOIP) such as Skype to web/video conferencing.
My business partner and I set up the company on different sides of the Atlantic and relied on Skype to hold meetings and communicate with each other. I sometimes wonder how anyone ever did business without it! You can now hold meetings and see people who aren’t even on the same continent as you, virtually free of charge.
Today has seen the end of information arbitrage. Anyone anywhere can input a few key words into a search engine and find the product or service they want: anywhere in the world. Technology is now highly efficient, attainable and most importantly, cheap, which means, SMEs and start-ups are now in a position to achieve what was only once possible for large organisations.
Accessing international customers and establishing overseas facilities used to be too expensive and too difficult. The explosion of access to email and the internet and has given smaller companies an opportunity to compete on a global playing field to expand globally.
Technology means you can communicate with the rest of the world at the touch of a button regardless of whether you are talking to a business associate in the UK or in China. The way I see it, globalisation is no longer the ‘scary’ prospect it once was and because overseas markets are growing at a much faster rate than we are domestically, SMEs and start-ups need to take advantage of this. Technology is the key enabler for SMEs going global.
One of our UK based clients, Umee, has a team located in Bulgaria who work closely with the UK team. Umee is a small software company which provides applications for mobiles including iPhones and is currently designing an application for the ipad. Nikola Shopov, who is the lead developer at the Bulgaria office, describes how they use technology.
He said: “We feel nearer to each other because of technology. Every day I speak to my boss in the UK over Skype and it feels like I’m working directly for him even though he’s in the UK.”
A small to medium sized enterprise now has the same opportunity to ‘go global’ as a large company, but with the added advantage of being entrepreneurial, energetic and without the constraints of huge corporate structures.
Globalisation is now a possibility for any sized company and I believe smaller companies will become global much more quickly and, ultimately, the new future leaders. I hope Global Entrepreneurship Week encourages them to explore the possibilities.
For more information on Neal Gandhi, his company Quickstart Global, or Born Global which offers practical advice to entrepreneurs go to: www.quickstartglobal.com