We recently started working with Bernard Lunn, a technology entrepreneur with 20yrs in the industry, to help us define and progress our marketing efforts. We got to talking aboout a new breed of entrepreneurs and small businesses that are not confined by geography (and ultimately how most WORK[etc]’ customers fit this mould)
This is the era of tiny networked companies that operate globally. These micro versions of multinationals outsource almost everything to specialists all over the world and sell to people all over the world through the Internet.
This is “multinational 2.0”.
For a long time we have had the concept of virtual companies, which has tended to mean that there is no physical office that everybody commutes to. The problem for those of us who have actually worked with these fine companies is that the term “virtual company” sounds negative. It sounds unreal, or insubstantial. These companies are very real, with real products/services that their customers rely upon, real revenues and profits and the people who work there rely on getting paid by these companies to pay their bills.
You’re 100% right here. So, my first business, Virtual Impact, was a web design and marketing business when the word “virtual” was in vogue – circa 1999. A constantly displeased (think high maintenance) customer yelled down the phone line one day, “Is that why you call it Virtual Impact – because you deliver virtually nothing for virtually no-one?” Ouch.
So yes, the word Virtual definitely has negative connotations.But like many of our customers, Worketc is definitely one of the new micro-nationals.
Our “head office” (myself) is in Sydney, Australia, and we have dedicated staff in Phoenix (USA), Manilla (Philippines) and Halifax (Canada) and customers across 28 countries. I would never say that we’re virtual, yet somehow saying we are a small business just makes me think of tupperware parties and diet supplements.
We are so much more than a small business, we are a micro-multi-national.
We have massive market penetration in Malta (ok, only 2 customers, but still a large percentage of the total Maltese market for ondemand CRM!).
But think about this, an Australian owned company with product development done in Canada, sales & training managed out of the USA, servicing customers in Malta. And I’m guessing we’re the only CRM and Project Management tool to be fully available in native Welch.
So we understand what it takes to run a small networked global business.
And most of our customers are micro-national too. Is it just us and our friends, or is this a big trend? It seems to have escaped the attention of the mainstream press so far.
We think it is time to tell the tales of these brave micro-multis. We want to hear your tales. Tell us what you can share publicly. We assume that getting your name our there helps. And as you grow, we grow as well.
This Is Different From Telecommuting
Traditional companies have worked with “telecommuting” employees for a long time. The arrival of Net based collaboration tools makes that a lot easier. This saves on office rent and enables companies to retain employees who need a more flexible schedule.
That is great and the trend will increase. But it is very different from the genuinely virtual/networked companies in one critical aspect. In a traditional company, the physical office is still the core and the “remote workers” have to work hard to “stay in the loop”. In a genuinely virtual/networked company, nobody is out of the loop, there is no core to be remote from and everybody has to make the online tools work.
This is exactly how WORK[etc] operates and what the WORK[etc] software aims to facilitate. In fact, we actually use our product to manage all aspects of our business and allow our “remote workers” to collaborate on everything from sales, to customer support, product development and invoicing.
Healthy Small Businesses Matter To All Of Us
Small business has always led the way with jobs out of a recession and it will do so this time as well.
But this is not your father’s small business. This is not a main street store. Well it might be, but go to the owner’s office and check out what she is doing online while she waits for a customer to come in the door. That is where you will see the excitement.
When your product is digital (designs, code, SEO, writing, advice, finance, whatever), location is simply irrelevant. You would be crazy to restrict your search for employees, contractors, partners, vendors (all being “talent”) by zip code.
But this is not simply restricted to digital products.
You can design something and send it to get made in China, assemble a site that attracts traffic, bung in some simple e-commerce and then outsource the pick and pack fulfilment.
This is what has been called Punk Manufacturing and Chris Anderson at Wired hailed as the next Industrial Revolution.
And what we’re doing with WORK[etc] is building a platform that allows you manage all aspects of micro-national online (cloud), in the single place. Simply:
- sell to a customer,
- outsource to a partner or remote work,
- manage the project with your customer and partner,
- invoice the customer,
All from anywhere in the world you have broadband…
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These micro-multlinationals are below the radar. Government statistics don’t pick this up. Maybe the official statistics pick up a freelancer or a company with one employee. What nobody sees is that one freelancer working with 10 super-talented freelancers in 6 different countries, sub-contracting to a factory in China and a contact center in India.
We aim to change that. We want you to tell your story.