The cost of advanced, computer-controlled tools, such as laser cutters, milling machines, 3-D printers and computer-aided design tools, have dropped to the point where small businesses can easily afford them.
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The Internet and related tools have substantially lowered the cost of starting small businesses. Online marketing methods have also made it easier and cheaper for producers of niche products and services to connect with buyers.
These networks, Web sites and community forums provide a wide range of instructional information and serve as meeting places for makers to exchange ideas, methods and knowledge. This information might be relevant for product development or for business operations, depending upon the need for information and the sources tapped.
The recession has battered businesses big and small, increasing unemployment. Even if the recovery is strong, large businesses are unlikely to dramatically expand their workforces. Because of the continuing lack of jobs, niche and part-time businesses will be the best employment option for many.
A wide range of survey data shows that most baby boomers want – and many financially need – to continue working past the traditional retirement age. But they’re also eager to try new things and pursue passions and interests they ignored during their corporate careers. As a result, they turn to hobbypreneurship to generate income in retirement.
Small and personal businesses are best positioned to meet the demand for customized products. They have an ear to the market, understand what customers like and, with less bureaucracy and infrastructure in place, are able to readily adapt to meet those needs.