I’ve often said on the air at “Austin Hill’s Big World of Small Business” that if your business can’t be found on consumers’ mobile devices, eventually your business won’t be found at all – and the latest fussing from some of the world’s largest tech firms suggests that I’m not overestimating the importance of mobile accessibility.
But before we address the mobile issue, let’s first talk about the competition issue. And let’s get a brief, historical lesson on competition from the American retail sector over course of the last decade.
Think back to 2002. Communities all across the United States at that time were crying “oh my gosh! Big box stores (Walmart, Best Buy, etc..) are destroying our local small businesses!” The big box stores weren’t regarded as competitive businesses, but rather, as villains that should be destroyed.
In the last couple of years or so the cry has morphed, but the dilemma has remained much the same -communities all across the U.S. have been crying “oh my gosh! Internet sales are destroying our big box stores (note the financial struggles of Best Buy over the past 18 months)!”
Now comes word that some of the world’s leading tech giants – companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon – are nervous about other, smaller, start up tech companies.
Why? Because some of the other, smaller, start up tech companies are providing even better products and services to enable us to live and do business in a mobile fashion. We’re talking here about tech giants – companies whose products and services many of us use everyday – and they’re apparently feeling a bit frightened by brand names you might not even be aware of yet.
You may have never heard of Path, Instagram, or Foursquare. But they’re apparently making Facebook and Google and Amazon feel “threatened.” What’s up with that?
Whether it’s the threat of Walmart running the mom-and-pop store out of town, or the threat of a relatively unknown tech product siphoning consumers away from Google maps, the common thread in all of this angst is market competition. Our free market economy is, by design, incredibly competitive. That means that it is sometimes a rough-and-tumble arena, even for the corporate giants.
For those of us who own small businesses, the key lessons in all of this are twofold:
A) There will always be competition: If you’re a small business owner and you think you have no competitors right now, just wait – the competition will come. No matter how unique your product or service is, or how attached you think you are to a particular geographical region or customer base, somebody at some point will move in on your turf, and attempt to replicate what you do. Don’t be the small corner store that ends up being shocked and horrified when Walmart moves-in (and then protests and complains about the un-fairness of it all). Plan now for competition. Anticipate what that may look like, both on a smaller and larger scale, and then determine what you’ll do to survive, and thrive in the face of it.
B) Embrace Technology: What, you don’t have a website for your business? Why not – you can have a basic website one for free. And you’re not using the otherwise “free” power of Facebook and Twitter to market your products and services? If you haven’t yet begun to harness the power of those assets, how are you going to remain relevant when consumers begin to gravitate to the next generation of social media outlets (Facebook is concerned about this, and so should you and I)?
Visit AustinsBigWorld.Com for tips on getting your business online – it’s your first step towards being found on people’s mobile devices.
And check out the story of how some of the world’s tech giants aren’t coping so well with “competition” – details HERE.