Technology companies are transforming the world, but it’s your world too, and you have to live and do business in it.
Who’s the Next Steve Jobs?
There are many things that have been written and said about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. The most astonishing statement I have read is : No, entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs do not create jobs by inventing products like the iPhone.
Yes, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs create cool companies. Yes, Silicon Valley investors provide the risk capital. But that only creates a few temporary jobs that last until the money runs out.
What creates jobs, according to Business Insider Henry Blodget, is customers. Customers who buy the products and services created by entrepreneurs and investors :
Without the customers, the iPad and hundreds of other Silicon Valley products would have remained little more than cool prototypes. And the jobs of those who made them, which were initially funded with investment capital, would quickly have disappeared.
Business Insider, December 12, 2011
Finding and keeping customers by creating products and services that people really care about is good business. Having customers who value your products and service is a good way to create your own job.
So, who’s the next Steve Jobs?
What Will You Do When They Come For You?
The four competing covers of the November 2011 edition of Fast Company magazine featured three CEOs, in addition to Jobs, whose companies, they say, are the defining businesses of the 21st century.
And you don’t have to care about tech to be affected :
Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google don’t recognize any borders; they feel no qualms about marching beyond the walls of tech into retailing, advertising, publishing, movies, TV, communications, and even finance. Across the economy, these four companies are increasingly setting the agenda.
The Great Tech War of 2012
Fast Company, November 2011
These companies are taking advantage of the wide reach and availability of the internet, in a way that small and medium-sized businesses cannot easily do.
The internet gives them access to millions of customers, and they transact business with those customers online, not in person, not face-to-face. Their success depends on limited customer contact, and do-it-yourself online sales.
These technology companies are using their massive customer base to accumulate huge earnings from low margins and low cost services.
Amazon aggregates small profit margins on individual sales into billions of dollars in net sales ($10.9 billion Q3 2011). Google accumulates millions of small payments into billions of dollars ($9.7 billion Q3 2011).
All four companies rely on the enormous reach and scale of the networked economy. They are all aggressively expanding into areas involving local business.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Internet
More than two hundred years ago Adam Smith wrote what became the foundation of modern economic thought. The Wealth of Nations reasons that improvements in transportation (communications infrastructure), by cutting costs, puts outlying areas (smaller businesses) on a level with concentrations of wealth (tech savvy internet companies).
Good roads, canals, and navigable rivers, by diminishing the expence of carriage, put the remote parts of the country more nearly upon a level with those in the neighbourhood of the town. They are upon that account the greatest of all improvements.
The Wealth of Nations
Who needs good transportation when merchandise purchased on the internet is delivered directly to your door? The internet reduces the cost of doing business for tech savvy companies. How does it help you?
The internet reduces the cost of doing business by allowing companies to transact business with customers directly, no matter what distance. It eliminates the necessity for large, name-brand businesses to have locations and inventory in your neighborhood, because it no longer matters where you are located when conducting business online, directly to your door.
However, the reach and scale of the internet is an advantage to local businesses as well, because even though it introduces rival commodities into the local marketplace, it also opens many new markets to your own products and services.
You Have to Stand Out to Be Noticed
You know that technology giants succeed by accumulating small payments and small profits from millions of online customers, and that is something your business may not easily do. You know that their online profitability depends on minimal customer contact, and you prefer to treat each of your clients as individuals.
In that case, you best strategy is to offer truly exceptional products and extraordinary personal service.
Some people may very well settle for less, but there are other people who don’t really value low-cost, low-quality products. You have to do your best, because it’s not good enough to be just good enough, any more.
The internet is like a huge marketplace where thousands of people are all talking at the same time. There, each of us must ask: Do I have anything unique, any personal connection with my customers? Do I have something which will keep me from disappearing in the crowd?