As an entrepreneurship consultant, I am often asked – just how big is the online market? As of 2023, over 5 billion people, or about 60% of the world‘s population, now use the internet. This massive addressable market continues to grow year after year, creating opportunities for digital small businesses in even remote corners of the globe.
Explosive Growth of Internet Users
The chart below illustrates the staggering growth of internet adoption over the past two decades:
|142% 5-year growth
|100% 5-year growth
|75% 6-year growth
|43% 7-year growth
Key takeaway – an average 8.4% annual growth has brought over a billion new users online every 5 years. Developing nations are rapidly closing the internet access gap in their populations.
Global Internet Speeds and Infrastructure
But it‘s not just about the number of internet users – the quality of access also impacts how usable and beneficial the internet is across countries. Below is a snapshot of average internet speeds globally:
Wealthier nations in North America, Europe and parts of Asia boast internet speeds over 100 Mbps, while poorer countries can lag under 10 Mbps. This affects everything from loading websites to streaming video for both users and businesses.
These speeds are directly tied to investments in broadband infrastructure. South Korea tops the world at over 42 broadband subscriptions per 100 people.
Implications for Small Businesses
As an entrepreneur consultant, I always highlight expanding internet access and speeds as a massive opportunity. Some key advantages:
- Wider reach – A local physical store can now sell products globally through ecommerce.
- Lower startup costs – An online-only business avoids physical store costs.
- Growth of digital services – Apps, SaaS, digital media/marketing etc.
While internet gaps still remain in rural and lower-income areas, mobile connectivity and improving infrastructure are closing these rapidly. I advise my small business clients to seriously consider a digital presence given these trends. The future of business is online!