“Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds” ― Albert Einstein
There are a million stories about why the Internet has been a gift to small businesses. Most of them use the following line or something close to it, “the Internet has leveled the playing field so that the little guy can compete with giant corporations.”
In reality it is not entirely true. It doesn’t take into account the vast differences that exist in access to resources. Our old friends from Field of Dreams can say “If you Build It They Will Come” a million times but that only works in the movies.
The fact is that building a website is not a guarantee that millions of visitors will walk through your virtual store where they will pick your virtual shelves clean and make you rich. What if it did happen? What would the small business do then?
Would their servers be able to handle the traffic? Would they have enough inventory? What about fulfillment? Who would ship all the orders out? What about returns? Who would deal with that?
The so called giants have teams of people that handle these issues. If the site goes down there is always a group of IT professionals to deal with it. They have enough working capital to purchase larger amounts of inventory and sell it at a better price point than the smaller business.
But this isn’t about the nuts and bolts of why it is not really accurate to say the playing field has been leveled. You can blame it all on one thing:
The Power of Perception
The power of perception is what drives this belief. When it comes to the web that quote from our friend Mr. Einstein is quite accurate.
There is an exceptionally low barrier to entry into the online world. For a minimal investment you can set up a beautiful looking website that makes you look like you are running a multimillion dollar business.
No one knows whether you are running your site from the penthouse on Fifth Avenue, the beach or from a dingy motel room.
You Are Contradicting Yourself
I know. A moment ago I was splashing cold water on the faces of those who believe that the Internet has leveled the playing field and now I am saying that it sort of has. Where am I going and what is the point.
The point is that while the field might not be level it doesn’t have to be for you to be successful doing business online. What you have access to now are tools that you can use to leverage the power of perception so that you can do more with those fewer resources.
And maybe, just maybe you can leverage those fewer resources into something that grows into the next Google or Facebook. That is a separate topic entirely that we might cover in a future post.
For now let’s end with one of my favorite quotes:
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.“- Mark Twain