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All Business Starts With A Community

By - August 19, 2009

small biz starts with a community.jpg

Today I was on my way back to our house after dropping my kids off to camp, and I decided to stop by a local cafe for a quick coffee-n-chat. Now, in August, “our house” means a century-old family place on an island, an island that rather pugnaciously refuses to allow large chain stores to set down roots. So it’s fair to say that this island is sort of a Galapagos of small business. There are no Mickey D’s, no Safeways, and no Starbucks. It’s all locally owned – nearly every single “year rounder” who lives here is a small business person.  

The local cafe I stopped by is a hangout – a place where the community comes to eat and drink coffee, to gossip and share information, to learn the latest, to connect. It’s a social network in its truest sense. It’s driven by content – the conversations and knowledge of the staff and customers, and it’s driven by community. Commerce is a by product of the two.

But the commerce is not limited to just the coffee and egg sandwiches on the menu. Not by a long shot. Like nearly every other cafe and community restaurant on the island, there’s a bulletin board, and everyone who has something to promote puts up their business card or their flyer. And you know what? It works.

I love this picture. If you really think about it, it tells you just about everything you need to know to succeed as a business in the digital age.


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5 thoughts on “All Business Starts With A Community

  1. .
    Recession is a term that would we well known to all of us. It’s the period of dull trading of a business or widespread economic difficulty. Several ace economists share the same view that the period of recession is at its last stages. According to them recession was at its infancy towards the end of the year 2007. Here we would like to recall that a similar scenario that was witnessed in the year 2001 and the subsequent bloom of IT and Its sectors. Hence the statement of economists assumes significance. Let us hope for a positive comeback again. However the change will not take place in an overnight and just the beginning of end of recession has started. This statement by experts seem to be credible as the soaring crude oil prices have been stabilized in the recent past. Although it’s rising again, it is expected definitely to not to touch its peak as before. Several countries saw their governments cutting off the fuel prices accordingly. So the economy may not be as brisk as before but still gradually improving, making us heave a sigh of relief. You may start planning to buy your favorite vehicle. Job seekers need not spend wastefully the hard earned money of their parents in the name of job search expenses. So gear up !

  2. Dave says:

    Sounds like a wonderful island.

    I was just at my local ice cream place and saw the same bulletin board. Never considered the connection to social media.

    ps, Just listened to the audio version of “The Search.” I loved it and will listen to it again. -Thanks.

  3. Surveys conducted by reliable sources reveal that around ninety percent of the web traffic ( the request- response process taking place between server and client) is predominantly derived based on the list populated by search engines. In simple terms , people visit uncommon websites only if the search engine projects them at the top of its listing. This gives no wonder as in today’s world life has become mechanical and shortage of time is the problem faced by almost all the illiterate people who have the knowledge of browsing the net to look up for information. In particular most of the users irrespective of the geographical boundaries do not have patience to even have glance at the names of websites displayed beyond first two or three pages of Google. So pushing forward your website so as to get displayed within those top twenty or thirty website list will enhance your prospects of earning money through advertisements greatly. For a search engine that is looking into the future at its early stages, the relevance of results is very indispensable in creating a rigid platform for ad revenues. So you cannot use short cut methods such as canvassing the management of search engines by paying an amount as bribe or by resorting to cheap strategies like just typing the important keywords hundreds or thousands of times as an ardent devotee of God would write the name of his favorite God repetitively in a paper to please his God. The search engines reportedly use complex and robust algorithms which are intelligent in providing ranking to WebPages in a wise manner after a thorough in-depth analysis. Some people few years ago used to create ‘spam websites ‘ – the ones whose purpose behind the creation is to promote the ranking of some other websites. Google is cautious that if it detects a new website for a few months it will not alter its original rankings. During the intermittent time it checks whether the website is intended for long term.

  4. Alex says:

    I couldn’t agree more with John’s post. I think there is a tremendous opportunity for small, independent businesses to exhibit the same level of intimacy and engagement online with their customers and with each other. If a small business communicates openly and conversationally online and connects with the communities that they are a part of, I’ve found that they can translate the offline sense of intimacy into something that is equally (and sometimes more) powerful online. We’re trying to address this with http://www.CloudProfile.com, our new platform which is meant to make this shift really easy for ultra small businesses, and even after soft launch a few weeks ago we’re seeing some interesting examples where “clusters” of small businesses are linking their profiles together in ways that remind me of John’s photo above.

    Regarding the last commenter, this is NOT just about (or even primarily about) being found in search – “social discovery” and word of mouth are equally important and that is one of John’s points. We’ve found through working with about 400K small businesses with our first generation platform that a “conversational, intimate, unassuming web presence” that is interconnected with social media is even more important in helping small businesses to make the leap online. We’ve definitely had to make things search optimized, but based on in-market learning the most intense value has come from:

    - natural, really easy to use conversational publishing (these businesses don’t know and don’t care about HTML)
    – “social syndication” we’ve built to connect the conversational content with Facebook, Twitter, etc.
    – engagement tools that let the profile owner engage the way the customers want to (take my business card with you, talk to me while I’m behind the counter, make an inquiry, comment and talk with other customers, etc.)
    – an engagement stream and social radar that helps the profile owner to both be responsive to customers and also “listen” for the places where they need to be fully engaged across the web

    Given the right tools where all of the complexity is eliminated, the small businesses can translate their passion for their business and the things they do so effectively offline into the digital world.

    Will try to cross-post a bit more on this topic later.

  5. Joelchrist says:

    Interesting blog. Thanks for sharing. Loved reading this blog and ofcourse interesting comment conversation too.