October 1 marked my twenty fifth year in business. I still find it shocking that 1991 was 25 years ago, but I guess it was!
When I first stepped into the realm of the self-employed, I thought Fastype was a great name for my business. It was a bit of a play on words for “fast” and “typing”, because that’s what I did! I provided word processing, desktop publishing, resume writing, laser printing, meeting prep, Faxing, direct mail, and a number of other services for local business owners. I started my own business after far too many years working in the administrative field for other companies. I wanted to go out and see what I could accomplish on my own. Turns out… quite a lot!
My business has gone through several changes over the years in order to keep up with technology and my own changing skills and areas of expertise. Not to mention, I had to keep things constantly changing in order to adapt to the ever-changing marketplace.
Over the past 25 years, Fastype has grown from a small town, office-based secretarial and resume service serving local clients only, to BizEase Support Solutions, an online marketing support company helping professional speakers and coaches all over the world turn time into money.
Today, BizEase is backed by a team of 17 marketing support specialists. We provide a huge range of online marketing services to professional speakers and coaches. In these past 25 years, I’ve narrowed my focus, grown the BizEase team, and provide the absolute best service for clients within our niche market.
In light of celebrating 25 years in business, I thought I would share some of the biggest changes I’ve witnessed along the way. Both the great and not-so-great!
Not much needed to elaborate on this point; but it’s certainly been the most significant change. Email, Internet research, document delivery… not only has the Internet allowed for more efficient business operations, but it has allowed for great new service offerings, and a much larger market of potential clients.
- Social Media. Again one of the most significant changes. Social Media marketing has completely transformed the face (and cost) of marketing, and the way BizEase and the rest of the world do business. In fact, it is one of our favorite service offerings. If someone told me 20 years ago I’d be working with clients from all around the world from my home office in the year 2016, I would have laughed in their face.
- Email Marketing. Email marketing has also been a game-changer as far as promoting a business goes. We now have the ability to send targeted messages directly to those who have shown an interest in hearing from us. Back in the day, direct mail was our only option, and it was an absolute crap shoot. And an expensive one at that!
- I can schmooze online with folks from all corners of the globe in Facebook groups, webinars and a variety of other online platforms. The only way networking was done in the 90s was to actually go out and attend a mixer. HUGE change. Huge.
- Online courses and learning. I can learn about almost any topic I want, virtually from the comfort of my home, on my own time. Online courses have revolutionized the way we learn new things. Really. Think about the information we have at our finger tips that would have required enrolling AND PHYSICALLY ATTENDING live events and courses or college programs 20 years ago! This aspect of change also created a very profitable service offering for the BizEase team… Membership sites! Online learning at its best.
Not-so-great (but not insurmountable) changes.
- Expectations of being available 24/7. With the Internet have come new expectations. We are expected to be online and available around the clock. And when we don’t respond to an email within the hour, people seem to think they will never hear from us again. This has put a huge amount of pressure on virtual business owners; and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.
- More difficult to make human connections. We are all at home hiding behind our computer screens. Or, we’re out running errands – scurrying about quickly to get things done so we can go back to hiding behind our computer screens. Humans are becoming increasingly social online and anti-social in real life. I miss that human touch (figuratively, not literally) we used to get doing business in the 90s. As difficult as it is though, it just makes me more determined to get out and attend live events and other networking opportunities.
- Everyone wants everything at the drop of a hat. Again, the Internet has been both a blessing and a curse. With the ability and ease of completing tasks, clients and potential clients seem to expect that projects can be turned around in the blink of an eye. While some tasks can be executed quickly, many of them still require a much longer turnaround.
- Rationalization of rates. With so many outsourcing outfits out there, and brand new Virtual Assistants and support companies hitting the market charging bargain basement rates, it’s getting more and more difficult (and necessary) to explain over and over again, why our rates aren’t three dollars an hour. But that’s another blog post altogether!
- More difficult to find trustworthy subcontractors. On that same note, while working with other professionals on the team is fantastic, it has become difficult to find those with the same work ethic that was the norm in the support industry back in the early days. Everyone and their dog think as long as they have a computer they can start an online business these days!
- Difficulty finding balance. This is probably the most “not so great” change over the past 20+ years I’ve been in business. The ability to work from home has created longer work days and a lack of boundaries. We are always there in front of our computers, so it’s difficult to “leave the office.” This muddying of home and business life has created such blurred boundaries that it often has a negative impact on our personal time, and the time we spend with our families. It is almost impossible to unplug and take time off with the ability to work anytime, anywhere. “Almost” impossible, however, not impossible. Finding a balance that works for your family and your business just takes more work and determination to achieve.
I could probably find a few more pros and cons about the effects of all of the technological changes that have had on BizEase Support Solutions over the past 20 or more years, but would like to hear from you now. What have you found to be the best and the worst parts of doing business in a world where technology has taken over?
Also published on Medium.