Update: OnlyBusiness.com Launches New Platform: Is the Model Still Viable?

OnlyBusiness.com is an online portal (or platform) that enables small businesses to grow their business online. You create a free web site and through their marketplace can sell (and buy) things to others in the OnlyBusiness.com community.
Update: OnlyBusiness.com CEO Daniel Meyrov responds point by point and in detail to my initial overview of OnlyBusiness.com. As a follow up to this initial article I was provided web site addresses of several OnlyBusiness.com powered web sites which were much better and alive than the web sites I randomly chose to review at first
Their web site reads OnlyBusiness.com was formed in order to build a vibrant and powerful business community that makes online business accessible to all.
Through our research, the OnlyBusiness.com team identified many common challenges experienced by organizations, which complicate the process of doing business online and networking with other businesses.

However, I’m not sure the community marketplace model is the way to go.
The main objective of OnlyBusiness.com is to allow each organization to create a sophisticated, credible web presence, with full eCommerce capabilities, which is automatically placed into an established and profitable sales and marketing environment. Within this vibrant business community, all barriers to online trade, communication and information have been removed.
OnlyBusiness.com (OB) has a nice page here of problems OB has solved for customers.
If you already have your own web site, OB can be an additional channel or market for your products – through selling them to OB community.
I had a look at a “flamingos 2 restaurant” on OB and was thoroughly under-impressed by the web site. Basically a plane page of text listing the business category they were in.
I then went to Angels Professional Cleaning – nothing much there either.
I clicked on several other member profiles in various categories and nothing but basic member profiles came up.
I think that years ago (maybe 3? 5?) there was a great need for one-stop-shop portals to help small businesses build web sites and sell online. However, Yahoo, Homestead, Microsoft Office Live have excellent platforms that can be used to launch your business online.
Their offerings are not free (Office Live is free at the first level) but this is good as if you look at companies who have built web sites on their platform many are vibrant, “serious” web sites for business.
In addition, the tools for building a web site and selling online are widely available and easier and easier to use. Whether you are going to do a simple blog on Blogger.com, Typepad or Word Press or a full blown web site using any number of web hosts (Verio, Hypermart, etc there’s little need for “one stop shop portals” whose focus is membership and members selling to members.
If your business is going to grow you have to work to do the marketing and customer support needed to ensure your business is known. Relying on community members is not the way to go.
OnlyBusiness.com sounds like a great platform to make it easy for a small businesses to build a web site and sell online. However, if you are serious about building your online business having your own domain name, great looking web site and email address are some of the basics which OnlyBusiness.com does not offer.

One thought on “Update: OnlyBusiness.com Launches New Platform: Is the Model Still Viable?

  1. Daniel Meyerov (CEO - OnlyBusiness.com)

    Dear Mr. Ray.
    Thanks for taking the time to go through our site and writing your review on it.
    I am responding to your write up in order to clarify certain points that you had made, particularly around your comparison of OnlyBusiness.com to some of the other services that you mention in your article (i.e. Yahoo, Homestead, Office Live).
    In our opinion, although there is certainly a place for these providers, we believe that their offering is somewhat outdated and limited as compared to that of OnlyBusiness.com.
    Firstly, it is important to ensure that the comparisons are both accurate and equivalent when looking at the systems you mentioned (and others like them) and OnlyBusiness.com.
    OnlyBusiness.com is NOT purely a ëwebsite builder’ or an ëonline store builder’. Rather, it is an e-business platform, providing the SMB business owner with all of the tools, transaction capabilities and infrastructure required to conduct business online, without any out-of-pocket expense. Some of the tools available on OnlyBusiness.com include a web builder, full auction facilities, trade leads, B2B inquiry cart, B2C credit card transaction with shopping cart facilities, all within a networking community and marketplace that also offers web marketing, both within and outside of the OnlyBusiness.com system. This aspect, along with the fact that we provide all of this to our members for free, is significantly different to the three systems that you mentioned in your article.
    The OnlyBusiness.com platform was built with the SMB in mind, who typically have very specific challenges when it comes to building their online business. These are often: limited finances, limited marketing & technical skills and limited time. To overcome this, OnlyBusiness.com was built for the basic user to quickly and simply build a professional transactional website for free, with robust backend, in order to leverage the internet and manage their offering to grow their business. As indicated, the services offered go much further than just a ëbrochure website’ or an online storefront. However it is dependent upon the user, and the amount of time and effort they invest in building their site on OnlyBusiness.com. With a minimal time investment, a basic user can build a very powerful online presence for free. The only charge incurred is if a member decides to use Paypal (which is seamlessly linked to, but totally independent of our system) to process live credit card transactions. Systems like Yahoo, for instance, requires a fixed monthly cost for a fixed term on top of ongoing and sometimes vastly increasing transaction fees, and only comprises a single module of what OnlyBusiness.com has to offer. Not only do additional fixed monthly costs challenge the SMB business owners’ existence but it also precludes these business owners from testing the web space as a viable and profitable business environment, without significant risk. OnlyBusiness.com allows for SMB owners to test the webspace with ZERO risk, which differs significantly from the other systems you mention. At OnlyBusiness.com we have committed to both understand the SMB owners’ challenges and to truly support them in bringing their businesses onto the web in a profitable way.
    OnlyBusiness.com is most certainly not focusing on ëmembers selling to members’, as you had mentioned. The focus that OnlyBusiness.com takes is, quite simply, to have ëmembers selling’ – both within the community and beyond it. The online community that we have created is to bring buyers and sellers together with the key goal of selling within the community or beyond it. For organizations with an existing web domain, they can join the OnlyBusiness.com community and use their dedicated domain name to mask the OnlyBusiness.com default address, which you indicated, in error, was not possible on our system. We provide the tools and instructions to help them do this, built into our system.
    In leveraging the community, independent business owners can take advantage of OnlyBusiness.com’s marketing which drives traffic to their sites. In your article, you indicated that business owners ëhave to work to do the marketing and customer support needed to ensure their business is known’. We are of the opinion that most business owners do not have the time, money nor the necessary technical and/or marketing expertise and experience to drive online traffic to their sites by themselves alone. The OnlyBusiness.com platform, with its community and marketplace, extends their individual efforts and supports them, again without payment.
    OnlyBusiness.com, as a community and marketplace, drives additional potential buyers to each of our members’ online businesses and, as they attract their own potential customers, these customers are exposed to other members in the community. The potential customers come from everywhere, not just our member base. OnlyBusiness.com spearheads all of this by promoting the community and marketplace as a whole, both online and offline. So your statement that the focus of OnlyBusiness.com is ëmembers selling to members’ and that each member ërelies on other community members to make its business known’ is, in our opinion, not completely accurate.
    You mentioned that, with the two sites you looked at, you were “Ö.thoroughly under-impressed by the web site. Basically a plane page of text listing the business category they were in”. Again this needs to be understood in context of the system. This is a system where a user can spend as much or as little time as they deem necessary to build their business website. The two sites you referenced are sites that the users did absolutely nothing on. They simply registered their login and contact details, which is a process that literally takes about 120 seconds. That’s not a limitation of the system. That’s the members’ decision to go through the web builder module and process and build a sophisticated web design, or not.
    However, keep in mind that, even with a 2 minute investment, those sites are still fully functioning websites with an eBusiness/eCommerce application built into them, and with access to all of the OnlyBusiness.com tools and services (e.g. auctions, tradeleads, etc). To make comparisons to the offerings on Yahoo, Homestead, Microsoft Office Live, you would then need to compare users that spend the same amount of time (and money) on their sites on those systems and on OnlyBusiness.com. i.e. what do members get on those platforms when they simply provide their login and contact details? Our members are ready to conduct business online, (albeit with a very simple and straightforward, ëplain’ design) when they do just that on OnlyBusiness.com.
    To see some of the great looking websites that were created on OnlyBusiness.com by members who invested one or two hours, please see a few examples below. Note that these are sites that people created and manage themselves, for free.
    1. http://www.onlybusiness.com/members/Osotime/Home.asp
    2. http://www.onlybusiness.com/members/Spareco/home.asp
    3. http://www.onlybusiness.com/members/Christopher%20Keys/home.asp
    4. http://www.onlybusiness.com/members/TheGiftShop/home.asp
    5. http://www.onlybusiness.com/members/Triple-L/home.asp
    6. http://www.onlybusiness.com/members/brownsugarchicboutique/Product.asp 7. http://www.onlybusiness.com/members/happyLA/home.asp
    8. http://www.onlybusiness.com/members/24hrSuperDeals/home.asp
    9. http://www.onlybusiness.com/members/PalmeraHammocks/home.asp
    10. http://www.onlybusiness.com/Members/divinecreations/Home.asp
    11. http://www.onlybusiness.com/Members/NMMI/Home.asp
    12. http://www.onlybusiness.com/Members/StantonsParadise/Home.asp
    13. http://www.onlybusiness.com/Members/KnickKnacksOnline/Home.asp
    14. http://www.onlybusiness.com/Members/TheSecretarysLounge/Home.asp
    I thank you for your interest in OnlyBusiness.com and I would welcome the opportunity of taking you through the process to create your own site on our system and for you to judge the experience and the value of the system to SMB business owners at that point.
    Best Regards
    Daniel Meyerov – CEOOnlyBusiness.com

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