Monday, August 13

Help not wanted: Rise of the nanobusiness

Right now, over 2,000 people a day in the US are going into business for themselves, according to the US Census bureau (quoted in Tomorrow's Trends). The USA Today recently published "Microbusinesses find huge benefits in outsourcing", and Small Biz Trends followed up with posts like "Single Person Business Booming".

In New Zealand, where 85% of all businesses are less than 5 people, this is less trend than standard practice. But while locally this results from a smaller population, internationally it's much more of a conscious decision. Turned off (or made redundant) by large corporates like WalMart, Ford, and HP, and turned on by a new interconnectedness online, single-person or nano businesses are finding success - and ethics they can live with.

More competition means cutting costs. And for many corporates, this means importing products from China, which can result in a 20% to 40% cost savings. 23 recalls of toy products were done last year alone in the US, featuring items like bears with toxic paint and a floating eyeball filled with kerosene.

Checkout the pages of the web's newest startups and nanobusinesses, and you'll find a different approach. Tanya Thompson, founder of successful clothing label Misery states in Idealog "she doesn't have to look further than any city mall for an example of what she doesn't want to happen to Misery." Local fashion designer Mala Brajkovic doesn't need to worry about sweatshops - her small team of designers assemble, cut, and sew her new lines in a loft in Newmarket.

"There’s certainly money to be made from stripmining users, as proven by the numerous malware providers.....but we firmly believe that doing right by our users is the best way to build a sustainable, successful company", says Flock, makers of an innovative social web browser of the same name. Monome, a small collective creating open source sound instruments, states that "by working with small, local companies we hope to foster long-term relationships, gain more insight and control over production, and actually witness our products’ progression." Seth Godin, in his landmark post titled "Small is the new Big", picks up this new ethical awareness with one of his many plusses: "Small means you can tell the truth on your blog".

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