Preface: If you’re a small business leader reading this post, fear not. Small business may be more ready for Web 3.0 than their bigger siblings, the global corporate brands. You, as a small business, may be best positioned to take advantage of this trend, better positioned in fact than your older nemesis and sibling, the global corporate brand.
What is Web 3.0? One of the best definitions of Web 3.0 is from Sramana Mitra who describes Web 3.0 as the trend to offer a much more personalized, much richer experience, for consumers (and employees). She shared this in her discussion on SmallBiz America Radio.
Parallel to this definition is Chris Anderson’s Long Tail which according to Wikipedia, “was first coined by Chris Anderson in an October 2004 Wired magazine article to describe the niche strategy of businesses, such as Amazon.com or Netflix, that sell a large number of unique items, each in relatively small quantities.”
However, in the 5 years since Anderson’s article and his subsequent book, “The Long Tail: why the future of business is selling less of more“; small businesses are able to create more and more, from less and less. Web 3.0 and its focus on a much more personalized, much richer, experience changes Chris Anderson’s long tail of Amazon and Netflix into thousands if not millions of small businesses catering specifically and effectively to the needs of their niche markets. Whether it’s a localized market or a market around customized, personalized, products and services, small business and the online resources of social media and collaboration are now the tail that wags the Big Dog. The Big Dog is our economy, our country.
Are you ready to offer personalized, much richer experiences, in order to compete on all those battlegrounds, markets? Many of you reading this article will shiver, perhaps, and think… ‘No way, no how, can we offer personalized services.’ Or some may think ‘OK, we offer one or two personalized products. But how do we create our own long tail, of selling less and less of more and more?’
Let’s look at your advantages:
Employer - employee model is dying. Quickly, too. Global brands offered an illusion security and benefits in return for mass production of unremarkable products. The illusion’s been exposed for all to see with the recent layoffs. Advantage: Small Business. Why? The competition for talent is eased. Small business offers the real opportunity to create and own our future based on the best use of our talents…working together.
No cumbersome legacy infrastructure. Small business lacks these institutional obstacles to create, innovate, tweak and refine your way to offer rich, personalized, experiences, aka products and services unique to your company and customers.
Daria Steigman describes this more completely in her article: The Small Business Edge: Why solopreneurs and small businesses will weather the downturn. She describes their (our) 2 key advantages:
Nimbleness: …in a downturn…small businesses are often able to shift strategies more quickly, and are less afraid of the consequences of something not working out. In other words, we can more easily test out new ideas and strategies and figure which ones will work.
Flexibility: While larger organizations have built-in teams, as small consultancies and solopreneurs, we can expand and contract more easily to build the right mix of skills and expertise to tackle a given project.
The former employer-employee model locked out flexibility in return for stability. Success in Web 3.0 will be centered around an organization’s ability to consistently, over time, expand and contract more easily to build the right mix of skills and expertise to deliver a new supply of rich, personalized, experiences.
Sustained employee motivation is done with greater ease and lower costs in a small business. Why? The personal connections remain intact from first-day employee up through founder and CEO. That makes it easy and affordable to recognize and reward your star employees (all of them, right?) quickly and with something tangible that’s fun to get, as Tim Berry writes in his post: How to Treat Model Employees.
That’s the other half of Web 3.0 and its demand for rich, personalized, experiences. Your employees. They deserve rich, personalized, experiences in return for their passion and skills. Rich, personalized, experiences are easy to deliver to and by members of a small organization. That’s important because it is those experiences that serve as the basis, the motivation, to create the same for your customers. (Note: It’s impossible to create customer evangelists with first creating employee evangelists. I-M-P-O-S-S-I-B-L-E)
Web 2.0 Tools. Web 3.0 is built on the success of web 2.0. These are online aps for expanding collaboration, using social media and growing community were designed with small business in mind. Wikis like Basecamp or PBwiki, Google docs for sharing and collaborating on documents, social media tools like blogs and podcasts and…Twitter and help to create communities like TheSWOM (The Society for Word of Mouth) and Employee Evangelists and even this community for American Express readers. Each of them grow because they create rich, personalized, unique experiences for their members.
All these trends and resources, tools and opportunities, combine to make it the best, and certainly the least expensive, time to start a business.
Why not start a business today?
Start a business, find others who share your passion, do something unique and memorable, offer a rich and personalized experience for your community, repeat it often and start wagging the dog of our economy.
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About the Author: Zane Safrit’s passion is small business and the operations’ excellence required to deliver a product that creates word-of-mouth, customer referrals and instills pride in those whose passion created it. He previously served as CEO of Conference Calls Unlimited. Zane’s blog can be found at Zane Safrit.