Bentley University Magazine Spring 2020 Edition
Why being an entrepreneur is easier - and harder - than ever
Every month in the United States, three out of every thousand people launch a business. Other data from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation pegs early-stage entrepreneurship at close to a 20-year high in 2017. Why the influx of new founders? Some entrepreneurs cite a lower barrier of entry to starting a business, largely due to advances in technology.
When Samantha ’17 started her business — a brand featuring Cape Cod-inspired photography and jewelry, with Instagram as its primary platform — she knew the first step in locating a relevant audience would be connecting with local shops, businesses and photographers on social media. She attributes those partnerships, which led to giveaways and ads, as a driving factor in the account’s growth to 51.3K followers. After finding a business on Instagram, Samantha can make initial contact, send sales pitches, and provide data and statistics from past partnerships, all without scheduling an in-person meeting. The approach saves her precious time as an entrepreneur — and she believes it’s led 4-year-old Capeology to much faster growth than it would have seen otherwise.
“It’s a way for your customers to see what you’re up to 24/7 and create that brand loyalty and trust that’s really going to set you apart from competitors,” she says of social media. “Even if you’re selling the same thing, if a client feels like they trust you more or resonate with your brand more, they’re going to go with you at the end of the day.”
Those perks are largely applicable across the retail sector. New businesses can start selling without any kind of physical presence, and entrepreneurs can build an audience online first with less capital (and less risk).
Personalization can also help people see your brand as “less robotic,” says Capeology’s Samantha. Her Instagram-centric business solicits audience opinions through polls and direct messages — for example, asking followers whom they’d like to see the account work with next.
“Then it feels like they have a say in selecting what’s to come,” says Samantha, who works hard to partner with the recommended companies.