Small Businesses Need to Group Together
A number of my friends run a small business, each of whom has a focused set of products such as silverware, personal sports training, curry recipes & ingredients, backpacks, paper, tents, sportswear and rare coins.
Each of them has a similar set of problems with their businesses, in no particular order:
- New competitors appearing regularly, copying their content and undercutting them
- Attracting new customers
- Learning about new customer channels (for instance Amazon Marketplace and Facebook)
- Search Engine Marketing - both PPC and natural search
- The administration of running a business
- Working with, and managing affiliates
Only one of these businesses runs from home. The others have fulfilment warehouses including office space.
They each work in isolation from one another, thinking that there's nothing an online jeweler can learn or share with a tent seller.
I disagree with this approach - learning about new customer channels is vital to all of these businesses. Sharing admin and marketing staff across separate businesses will make each business more efficient - this is exactly what happens in the corporate world of mergers and acquisitions.
I think the answer/ opportunity is for groups of small, online businesses to arrange [real world] forums where they can meet together and to share and collaborate.
Another answer is to emulate what has happened for digital creative agencies in Shoreditch, East London - Tech City - where huge warehouses have been converted into studios for a huge number of small companies to collaborate and work together.
Imagine if an industrial estate in the UK could be converted into many small business units where these businesses could share ideas and prosper together.