The boom of Services Companies and a guaranteed formula for success.
Many of the most popular websites are those which generate zero content. Instead they serve as a platform, a digital location for people to come and fill with shared content. Users then filter what they see, personalizing their experience. Of course there are only a handful of websites that are popular enough to reach the majority of internet users. Twitter and Facebook are two such, each allowing people to talk to each other or reach large groups at once, keeping connected and current.
Sites like reddit (ranked 36th in US traffic) and Pinterest (13th in US) have thrived by allowing users to post links to other content on the web. With some servers and a theme these sites provide an easy process for which to submit and track popular content from various spots on the internet.
Beginning with Google, the act of providing free services has become a powerful source of profit in today's tech market. Cloud tech services has been big bucks all around. From hefty acquisitions such as Microsoft picking up Skype or Yahoo buying Tumblr, to expanding services- Google growing from search engine to internet and mobile champion. Twitter quickly climbed the ladder by limiting people to 140 characters. Dropbox gave people lots of space.
Netflix also began as a service company, mailing people DVD's on unlimited, convenient, fair priced subscriptions. Expanding their distribution online, their website can be considered a product as it provided an excellent video playback experience before that could be found anywhere else online. Now Netflix's fate amid emerging competitors left and right is to put pedal to the metal and produce entirely new original content. 100% created and brought to you by Netflix. That transition can be extremely lucrative if they can make valuable content before the market starts to grow impatient. Netflix stock has already suffered severe doubt backlash twice over the last three years (first with the disastrous Qwikster snafu1Forbes- Netflix scraps Qwiksterand then in 2012 when poor earnings report and amounting competitors made investors nervous2Businessweek- Netflix tumbles.) before rising back to $300 per share.
So how do these companies all become extremely successful for simply stepping up to be the first to provide a certain service, a service which looking back anybody could have set up?
-Have the idea. The reason an engaged, creative workforce is worth its weight in gold.
-Provide an easy, error-free environment. From step 1 through delivery the process should be simple. Simple to sign up. Simple to use. Simple to pay.
-Provide a pleasant atmosphere- Like restaurants, companies should resist the urge to pack space with promotions.
-Performance should be seamless. Or at least near seamless, this means fast buffering for video sites, menus and page changes should be a snap.
-Make sure it works. Save yourself money on tech support.
Getting to that first step is an rare accomplishment itself. Honing in on a market's needs isn't always so straightforward. For every twitter there is another fading icon [digg, myspace, Flickr].
As always the question is how can a small company take advantage of the services market. The first way is to take advantage of the great services now being offered, which means lower initial costs for services such as cloud computing or server virtualization. With proper scalability, profits should always cover expansion. Not every company has the luxury of extra resources to research and develop equitable service ideas, this requires an additional level of craftiness towards logistics.
What if a small business, instead of concentrating on creating services to cover a new area, invested into exploring services to enhance it's existing process. Direct examples would naturally be restaurants offering website sharing services. Or any business offering a personal forum for customers to share experience and knowledge.
Every company not able to think of a good service to augment their existing business (maybe a plumber who would never necessarily expect an online following) can still explore the idea of creating their own services. Even plumbers in 2013 should have a searchable website (nobody's looking in the yellow pages anymore). Start by putting up a website through a template, hosted on a service such as 1and1. This is should be relatively straightforward for anybody who uses a computer with the aid of tutorial videos found free of charge on YouTube. Once you've learned going through the process, go back and create your own tutorial from the unique perspective of your industry as it affected the process.
This would mean not only blindly following tutorials, but keeping an open mind for ideas that relate to the business. A plumber wouldn't necessarily need as many time spent developing a structured layout for the website beyond the main page- it's primary function is still to provide contact information. So a plumber wouldn't be expecting to address multiple page views per visit. But a plumber could go through the effort of creating a FAQ or self help guides (in case of immediate emergencies) as helpful goodwill (and traffic). In this case he could offer advice in his own tutorial for website building plumbers.
While a plumber is not the first person one envisions when it comes to internet services, this case still demonstrates how the formula can be applied to anybody willing and able. At some point, outside technical expertise is required by everybody.
Any company can provide the service of offering instructions for the tasks they've just completed. While this could be seen as giving advice to potential customers, the point would be to keep moving forward meaning anybody prospering from your advice is behind your current progress.
Since business revolves around filling consumer needs, the minute you find yourself needing something you've identified a potential business. At this point with the amount of available knowledge and tutorials readily available on the Internet, every person should have the ability to put up their own website, and provide some sort of chat/content exchange service. It's only when your expecting thousands of users that you have to worry about advanced tables or database engineering. Which means it's a good problem to have.