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There's no question that technology has always helped businesses, as you've most likely learned in undergraduate business school by now. A perfect example would be the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th to 19th century, a period of time in which steam engine technology affected all industries across the board, from agriculture to transportation.
We've come a long way from steam engines in the past couple of centuries, but the trend remains the same even when the technology changes. In this digital age, our greatest breakthrough would have to be the Internet. And just like the steam engine, the Internet has wielded its influence on various industries in the past decade alone.
But let's take a look at how the Internet affected small businesses in particular. Before, owners of small businesses could only dream of a global audience. Advertising in traditional media such as newspaper and television was expensive, so they knew that their exposure would be limited to local markets at best. But thanks to the Internet, small businesses could suddenly reach people all over the world, as proven by the many sellers that have made their fortune on websites like eBay and Etsy, just to name a couple. They didn't have to spend much on advertising if they knew the tools of the trade, such as search engine optimization and, content marketing.
Aside from small business owners, freelancers -- such as writers, editors, graphic artists, web designers, programmers -- have gained much from the Internet. Clients from all over the world became easier to come by, so for the average Joe and Jane, taking gigs on the side is a feasible way to augment income.
Of course, small business owners and freelancers would still exist without the Internet. It's just that things are much easier for them now, thanks to technology. But there are billion-dollar companies that wouldn't exist at all without the Internet, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other social networking websites.
These companies have proven that a purely digital product can be a hot commodity. They've also proven that one doesn't have to sell anything tangible to the masses to earn a lot if the masses can be made a part of the product. For these companies, advertisers are the target market, for a change. It's an interesting business model that deserves to be discussed in any reputable undergraduate business school.
However, the Internet is not without a bad effect on business. In the same way that entrepreneurs are thinking of ways to make money online, criminals are also cooking up methods on how to scam people. Crimes range from a seller not sending an item that's already paid for, to a hacker stealing credit card information from a seemingly protected database. Thus, it's important that tactics like this are discussed in undergraduate business school, so that entrepreneurs know what they should look out for.
The positive effects of the Internet on business outweigh the negative ones. Although cyber crimes remain a problem, security measures have significantly improved in recent years. Plenty of every-day user folks have also become more aware of the risks, especially now that the Internet is an essential part of daily life.
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