With lots of talk about “cloud-this” and “outsourced-that,” it’s becoming easier than ever for an entrepreneur to start their journey. While these tools are probably best suited to online or technology companies, many of these same things apply to any new business venture.
- "Cloud" or "shared infrastructure"
There’s no need have a datacenter with fixed costs when you can pay for what you need when you need it “in the cloud”. As an added bonus, working in the cloud allows you to make use of others’ expertise in running what you need. Whether it’s storage from Amazon AWS, or Ruby on Rails hosting from EngineYard, infrastructure can be a variable cost with little to no capital investment.
- Remote employees, worldwide
Offshore resources have been available for a while, but Amazon Turk and oDesk have widened the market for remote employees and provided important systemization to the process. It is now possible to give tiny tasks to a massive worldwide workforce to complete almost anything. Assign automated tasks or hire developers from anywhere in the world. Scale your team up or down, the choice is yours. Some of these changes have also started to influence the testing or QA market place, another incredible advantage for building an “ultra light start up.”
- Outsourced services
Very similar to cloud resources, but these services have been around longer and just don’t have the buzz word of cloud. Despite not being new, outsourced services still provide infrastructure at lower rates, and access to features not otherwise available. From phone systems and email to accounting.
- Crowdsourced design
Despite their abundance, entrepreneurs still tell me they have a tough time coming up with logos or brand identities at good prices. Now, thanks to sites such as 99Designs and crowdSPRING, getting great logos, corporate identity and other design services are becoming much cheaper. While you may eventually need the design skills of a well-honed (and more expensive) design professional, if you’re just starting out, crowdsourced design is the way to go.
There is a growing community talking about how to quickly and profitably launch a startup with groups like Ultra Light Startups and lean startup movement with local meetups all over the world. Take advantage of these groups, concepts and lessons learned from people that have been there and done that.
With all these great resources, it’s easier (and cheaper) than ever to start a business. It can be a side venture while you work another full-time position, or if you’re ready for some sacrifice, you can pursue an “ultra light” venture full-time. The best part is that, moving forward, entrepreneurs have made traditionally fixed cost become variable, which only increases your ability to be profitable very quickly.
What resources do you use, or what is missing from the entrepreneurial toolkit?