If Small to Medium Business (SMB) version 2.0 was defined by coming to terms with the social
customer in a digital marketplace, then version 3.0 has to be coming to terms with being able to be a multi-national conglomerate, selling through multiple channels, with less than ten staff!
I received the above email today from PayPal, and it highlighted to me how much the environment small business operates in today is different from ten short years ago. Different in terms of opportunity, but also in terms of challenges, problems, and pitfalls.
The PayPal email illustrates how small the world has become and how accessible it now is for businesses that sell, well, anything. From mountain bike parts to luxury cars, it is possible to buy anything and have it shipped anywhere. This, quite simply, was not possible to the degree it now is, ten or so years ago.
For those businesses selling without borders, two things become crystal clear at roughly the same time. First is the boundless opportunity. Next is the equally boundless set of new problems.
How do you handle multi-currency? What are your sales tax, GST, VAT obligations? How do you keep track of inventory across multiple sales channels and locations? What increased workload does all this put on your team?
These questions can justifiably cause you a certain amount of panic because while your opportunity may be boundless, your staff and cashflow are not.
The PayPal email is possible because the incremental technological changes that have occurred in the past ten yeas has created a new business environment. Because this new environment has occurred incrementally, its impact is not immediately obvious. Put simply, many small and medium businesses (SMBs) that exist today, just were not possible ten years ago.
Over the coming weeks, I will be posting a series of articles that explore this new SMB v3.0 reality – its opportunities, its challenges, and how successful businesses are taking advantage of it to their benefit.