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Sarah Cross: The changing face of entrepreneurship

Sarah Cross got in touch with us to share some valuable info about how business has changed over the past two decades. We think it's pretty interesting - understanding how entrepreneurs hustled back then versus how we hustle now. What's better? What's changed? What have we learnt about the evolving nature of business? Read Sarah's blog below to find out from her perspective. More info about Sarah can be found here.

I started my first business as a passionate but naïve 24-year-old. In those days there were no laptops and limited websites, so I had nothing but the Yellow Pages, a phone, a big idea and a whole lot of determination.

When I started my coaching business two years ago so much had changed, including me.  I was a Mum the second time round, and had a suite of business tricks from my earlier experience up my sleeve.

In 1998 business ownership was certainly a lonely and isolating road that only a few dared to venture. Although in some ways there is so much more support today, modern business can be more challenging. There is much more competition and business now moves at a much faster pace.

There are many more, but here are the five key differences between starting a business today compared to 19 years ago:

1. The Internet – It seems obvious, but the digital age has changed things drastically. The internet enables wider connections. I currently coach clients all over Australia and even overseas.

Thinking back to my first business I didn’t even have a website until five years in. I seriously used a Yellow Pages and a good old fashioned telephone to kick start the business and it worked. I called company after company asking them if they wanted gift hampers for their contacts and lucky for me many of them said yes! In 2003 I launched the online component of my business and saw things quickly evolve and grow from there.

2. Remote life – One of the benefits of the internet is working from anywhere I please. With two sons in tow this mainly means from my home study rather than the sort of glamorous locations I might have chosen in my 20s. Additionally now when I travel the business can come with me.

3. Ability to switch off – The internet, remote life and the pace means not being able to switch off. There is no doubt my first business was often on my mind, yet when it came to going on holidays or even on the weekends when I didn’t have to work I could just turn off. There were no constant reminders like a smart phone telling me what needed to be actioned.

In my first business I actually went on a European holiday for four weeks. With a team at home assisting I was able to completely turn off and only communicate each week when I phoned in.

4. Social media – Mark Zuckerburg would have still been in school when I started my first business. If only I could have seen then the possibilities that lay ahead with social media and how it could connect you with your customers and clients. Something that has surprised me with my second business is how much I rely on Facebook. The business community groups I use are incredible for connecting me with clients and fellow business owners and I also have used it to find my suppliers.

5. Female entrepreneurs and support - There were no endearing or not so endearing terms for women in business like fempreneur and mumpreneur when I started, because there weren’t enough of us to warrant it! Over the years I’ve been thrilled to see an increase in women starting businesses. It was not the done thing when I started mine and the female support around me today is invaluable. I also love that the majority of my clients are business mums who have left corporate Australia to raise young families and chose not to return because they want to create a lifestyle of freedom and flexibility. I love that this is now a viable option for women.