I am a Fort Worth mom with four young children, but as a digital business owner I am an old-timer. I started my first online business more than a decade ago, and now I am running my fourth online business. I can testify to the extraordinary advances in technology that make doing business so simple for today’s entrepreneurs. Since small businesses employ nearly half of all working Texans, these technologies are important for our entire state.
In 2007, I thought the hardest part of starting a kids’ clothing company would be designing product and finding manufacturers to work with me. I was so wrong! The highest barrier to entry was building a simple online store and connecting with future customers.
At the time, off-the-shelf e-commerce website platforms did not exist, so I had to pay a full-service design agency thousands of dollars for a simple site. Online credit card processing wasn’t readily available and definitely wasn’t secure. The solution was a credit card machine in our house where I processed payments by hand as customers entered their credit card information on our website. The only way I could find our early customers was at in-person events, where I sold physical product and then told them about using our website for their next order.
Flash forward to today – starting an online business is a piece of cake. Amazon Web Services freed tech startups from expensive web hosting contracts and the need to buy servers. Wix, WordPress and Shopify simplified website design and integrated secure credit card processing. Freshbooks and Quikbooks integrated invoicing and accounting. Facebook and Instagram are a small business owner’s dream – concepts can be tested without big up-front investments by starting Facebook Business Page or the shoppable posts feature on Instagram.
Social-commerce has changed the way – and the speed – that small business owners can go from start-up to generating significant revenue. In our first four months one new business had $400k in sales, generated entirely through social commerce.
Today so many digital solutions are easy to use, look professional, and are affordable. They also enable creative employment solutions. For example, the Freshbooks financial platform allowed one of my Texas-based companies to hire employees in California and Hawaii. They could work daytime hours, and I could spend more time with my family knowing that invoices were sent and financials updated overnight.
My passion for small business and empowering technology solutions is why I joined the Board of a new organization – the Connected Commerce Council. Our 3C mission is to support digitally-powered small businesses all over America – help them grow faster, hire more employees, earn more profits, and generally to create more fulfilling and sustainable businesses. People have great ideas; powerful, affordable technology is available to help them get their businesses to market. 3C will help founders identify and optimize the best technologies for the founder’s particular needs.
3C also cares about our technology partners and government regulation. Digital small businesses are powered by some of the most popular tech platforms. I worry that government regulation of Google, Facebook and Amazon could harm the millions of small businesses like mine that rely on them.
As a mom, I worry everyday about my kids’ privacy. As a small business advocate, I worry that misinformed data privacy laws could limit technology platforms and reduce their utility for our small businesses. If state or federal or European privacy laws conflict with one another, then my small businesses operating nationwide or internationally might be forced out of business – or new businesses might never be started.
I am passionate about being an entrepreneur, and thankful for the limitless possibilities living in the U.S. affords me. As a woman, a mom and an American, I am energized by opportunity and thankful to those who paved my path. As a 3C leader I am excited to help the next generation of small business owners succeed.
Victoria Wise, Founder