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The evolution of entrepreneurship

by Mike Strawn

Starting a business isn’t easy. It takes an incredible amount of work and perseverance, as well as the fortitude to go out on a limb.

Starting a successful business is even more difficult, requiring the vision to identify a viable market opportunity and, more often than not, a healthy amount of luck. According to the U.S. Small Business Association, roughly half of all newly established companies survive five years or more.1

There’s a wide range of variables that can contribute to the success or failure of new businesses. Many of the major forces, such as the health of the economy or the tax and policy environment, tend to be fairly cyclical. However, there’s one significant element that has improved at an accelerating rate over the past few decades and made it much easier to start a new business today: technology.


​The benefits of modern technology for new businesses can be seen most acutely in the cloud.

Flexibility and scale

The benefits of modern technology for new businesses can be seen most acutely in the cloud. It has leveled the playing field for enterprise technology by allowing smaller organizations to tap into software and infrastructure that would have been extremely expensive through a traditional on-premises purchase.

Something like an email server that used to require an upfront investment along with ongoing maintenance and upkeep can now be “consumed” on an as-needed basis. Cloud capabilities have enabled a software-as-a-service delivery model that’s perhaps the technology breakthrough for entrepreneurs since the internet.

The cloud eliminates the need to predict what your technology requirements will be months or years down the road—just adjust your subscription whenever they increase or decrease. As a result, organizations can be more agile, adjusting technology to meet changing business requirements. Another benefit is that technology shifts from a large capital expense to a manageable operational expense, simplifying cost projections in the process.

All of this has contributed to a rapid increase in cloud adoption for small and midsized businesses over a short period of time. In fact, IDC estimates that it has gone from below 20% just five years ago to roughly 75% of small companies and 95% of midsized organizations today.2

​Cloud adoption has risen to roughly 75% of small companies and 95% of midsized organizations today.


Everything as a service

Extending beyond technology, the benefits of the cloud have also primed savvy new companies to seek out services-based models across other areas of their business.

The logic makes perfect sense: an “asset light” approach to technology increases flexibility and allows you to scale more quickly with less risk of over extension. It stands to reason that those benefits could be expanded by applying the same approach to other parts of the business.

When starting a new business, entrepreneurs should think critically about the parts of their business that are central to what their company does and which ones can potentially be “best-sourced.” This might be commonly outsourced services such as accounting and legal, or day-to-day necessities such as non-core office services and comprehensive IT management.

Even the concept of the workplace itself has become less rigid. Advanced collaboration and communication technology has made it easier to work remotely without negatively impacting productivity. An entire industry has developed around the concept of shared workspaces, which provide businesses with access to a flexible work environment that is easily adjusted to fit their needs.

Solutions like this can make it far easier for new companies to grow or expand geographically without shackling themselves to long-term investments in real estate. Even if you prefer sticking to a more traditional office model, certain functions like workplace services can be easily outsourced.

New companies reap major benefits

Cloud technology and the managed professional services model are particularly beneficial for new businesses because they can reduce the number of significant investments required during a time when funding may be tight. These organizations also don’t have to consider legacy investments in technology or real estate that may not have “paid themselves off” yet, freeing them up to choose the approach that’s best for their business today.

Offloading non-critical business and technology support functions to outside experts can help entrepreneurs create a leaner, more agile organization. The ability to do this from the start is one of the main reasons why there’s never been a better time start a new business.

Whether your company is just starting out or you’re looking to streamline your existing business, our services experts can take work off your plate and help you focus on what you do best.

RICOH ICE (Integrated Cloud Environment)

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Mike Strawn
Mike Strawn, Director, Services Business Development, Ricoh USA, Inc., is responsible for the vision and development of Ricoh’s services portfolio strategy capitalizing on new technology trends and delivery models. Strawn’s an accomplished business leader with more than 18 years of experience in marketing, sales, and services operations at Ricoh.
1 SBA Office of Advocacy. www.sba.gov. 2012. https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/FAQ_Sept_2012.pdf
2 IDC: SMBs will contribute to 40% of worldwide public cloud spending by 2019. http://searchcio.techtarget.com/blog/CIO-Symmetry/IDC-SMBs-will-contribute-to-40-of-worldwide-public-cloud-spending-by-2019