The Mouse that Roared: Big Business Without the Size

“The idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet peoples’ needs is just not true.”

Google co-founder Larry Page said this in a recent interview that was posted to YouTube. After I got over the shock of this statement coming from a guy who you know has to be a workaholic, I began to look at it in the perspective of how small businesses and technology overlap.

By taking advantage of the technology that’s available today, it’s very possible for even a solopreneur to successfully and profitably found and grow a business that to an outsider seems far bigger than it really is – especially when measured against the management burden running the business places on its owner.

Let’s pencil out a game plan that uses a wide range of technologies and tech-based services to develop a business that can register big sales with little staff.

Advice

You may already have your business idea. You could be selling a skill you have such as marketing, web design or writing. However, you’ll probably have some questions on any number of topics. Check Quora.com. There’s a good chance your question has already been answered. If not, post it and check back.

If you’re kicking around business ideas, go to Reddit Startups and enter the discussion. With these options, who needs to hire a business coach?

Selling

You can sell your products or services through a huge range of Internet outlets. If you’re selling a service, connect with something like Elance, oDesk, Fiverr or one of the other sites that connects freelancers to folks who need jobs done. You’ll also want to keep these sites in mind when you need virtual assistance down the line. More on that later.

If you want to sell products via the Internet, there are many low cost ecommerce platforms to choose from. They are template driven, so your shop will look fantastic from day one. Some of the best are Shopify, Magento, 3dcart, and Bigcommerce.

Of course there are other great ways to move your products and services, such as Craig’s List and eBay. One helps you reach the local market; the other can deliver customers around the globe.

Staffing Up

You can use the virtual assistant and freelancer resources above to do some staffing, but when you need professional sales staff or other more critical positions filled, LinkedIn is probably the first place you want to look. You can post jobs, join groups, and generally network to find the right people to help out.

For the sake of your sanity, to give you more office infrastructure and to broaden your network, you might consider a co-working space at around this point of your development.

Shipping Out

If you’re selling a tangible product, there are many fulfillment companies that will warehouse your products and ship them for you. They are also set up to take orders, answer customer service questions and integrate with many of the “off the shelf” ecommerce systems mentioned above.

You could, for example, sell a product on one of the home shopping networks, but never have to actually handle even one box yourself.

Heading Overseas

There are a variety of ways your products and services can be sold overseas. Your involvement ranges from the oblivious to the stressed out. At the “oblivious” end of the scale, someone buys your products, gets them overseas and sells them. You don’t really care about anything beyond the original domestic sale. The next step is to seek out domestic sources who sell overseas and work out a deal. The third step that I’ll mention is contracting with an intermediary or trade consultant with connections. I won’t say anything about direct exporting, because that’s beyond the “Big Business in a Box” approach I’m outlining here.

I’ve taken you from getting input about your business idea to exporting to Zambia and we haven’t even left your home office or added any full-time staff. Admittedly, I’m stretching the point a little, but the underlying assertion is true: You can create an impressive business without having to rent the 14th floor of an office building. You might even put a smile on Larry Page’s face and be able to build a strong business without having to work frantically.

Just work smart.

Image: Apodemus sylvaticus bosmuis by Rasbak, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

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ChamberofCommerce.com specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. Chamber is focused on providing the latest business news, small business advice, and helpful tips and resources for small businesses, entrepreneurs and mid to enterprise level companies. Follow us on Twitter at @ChamberOnline.

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