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The term “business” generally refers to an entity – whether an individual, a company or an institute – that engages in commercial activities with the sole intent of generating profit. These activities can be industrial, commercial, or professional. The idea of business as an entity has been around for more than 3000 years – but in this time the concept has undergone significant change in response to socio-economic forces. The Industrial Revolution was perhaps the largest of these, playing a major role in shaping business into the version that we know today. In addition, the rise of the internet and the widespread use of personal computing devices has presented endless new possibilities.

How the Industrial Revolution Changed Business

The Industrial Revolution took place at some point during the 18th century and caused society to undergo significant developmental changes. Prior to this, the vast majority of people relied on producing their own goods as opposed to buying them, considering it was easier and more affordable. This left little room for businesses to flourish as they had potentially very slim fields of operation. In light of industrialization after the revolution, businesses began to strive, making their way slowly but surely into almost every aspect of society.

The rapid advancements that affected manufacturing technology during the Industrial Revolution resulted in a significant increase in mass-produced commercial goods. Naturally, businesses then jumped at the chance to generate profit from this phenomenon, whether through manufacturing, marketing, trading, or shipping of these goods.

In addition to flourishing businesses, the Industrial Revolution also gave rise to better living conditions for everyone. With wider product availability at affordable prices, people were able to lead both healthier and more relaxed lives. Numerous job opportunities were also created in many domains, further enforcing lifestyle improvements as people grew able to make more income.

Marketing in the 21st Century

Marketing plays an integral role in every successful business, whether overtly or not. As more and more businesses emerge providing similar products and services, brand image becomes a major differentiator and for this reason, companies resort to marketing and advertising to attract a wider range of customers. It comes as no surprise that marketing has also changed a lot since the 18th century, especially recently with the uprise of the internet.

Traditional marketing before the internet presented a big challenge. Advertisers had a limited range of choices to deploy their campaigns, which often constituted designing attractive-looking posters for billboards and newspapers to attract new customers or even hiring salespeople with signs, on busy streets to market their products. Despite these methods requiring a lot of resources and effort, they were still not as effective as modern advertising. Advertisements couldn’t be set to target specific audience categories, rendering them a lot less ineffective.

On the other hand, modern marketing has recently become more affordable and more effective for businesses. The internet opens great opportunities for advertisers while also proving itself helpful to customers. This is due to the complex algorithms that go into internet marketing, delivering relevant ads and discounts to those who actually need them. Strategic placing of online ads can also enable advertisers to target specific audiences. To give a personal example, I recently purchased some prescription sunglasses after seeing an advertisement online, and they have turned out to be one of the best purchases I’ve made – the prescription suits my eyes perfectly and the sunglasses look great. Prior to the internet, I probably wouldn’t have found them.

Business and the Internet

The internet has changed business in many more ways than this. In fact, it has become pretty common to find businesses that have been founded completely online and possess no physical existence. This is especially common in the cases of small businesses owned by individuals.

When it comes to massive firms, the internet also brings a variety of improvements to the way they function. From better planning to enhanced communication, teams are able to deliver a superior quality of work without even needing to be in the same building. This is particularly prominent in our current pandemic-ridden time where employees are required to work from home. Who knows how much worse the global economy would be had it not been for the existence of Zoom.

Finally, the internet provides great opportunities for businesses to expand their horizons and make more profit. A clear example of this would be the incredibly widespread use of online shopping outlets that enable customers to buy products in seconds and have them delivered right to their doorstep, all from the comfort of their bed. Revolutionary advancements in payment methods like cryptocurrencies make this process even more seamless, allowing customers to make nearly instant payments with very low fees.


The domain of business currently accounts for a great deal of our everyday life whether we realize it or not. The digitization of business operations will continue to allow them to expand and operate more efficiently. As the internet grows increasingly dominant, expect the number of purely online businesses to surpass traditional bricks-and-mortar stores. This will no doubt cause further evolution to the concept of “business”. The underlying idea, though, remains unchanged – providing useful services to customers and making a profit in the process.