The Internet Changes Everything

Recently, Tim got to interview Michael Gerber. I’m jealous. It’s been 10 years since I read E-Myth Revisited, but I haven’t forgotten the principles that Gerber shares.

I was surprised at one of Gerber’s responses. When asked “Has the Internet really fundamentally changed the game for small business”, his response included:

“The internet era has, of course, changed the game for small business, but not as dramatically as most would profess…As many or more companies fail on the internet as anywhere else…”

It’s true; countless internet businesses fail. However, the cost of failure is so often negligible. In addition, the bar of success has been lowered. It’s why– as I’m sure you’ve heard before– SPAM continues to be the massive problem it is; it costs almost nothing to send out a few million emails.

My first web venture was created as a side project by me and my father. If you don’t include the hundreds of hours I spent teaching myself Flash, PHP, MySQL, and a slew of basic internet, server, and hosting logistics (all which was done during a time when my opportunity cost was about $7 an hour), our startup costs were negligible. We have top Google rankings for all our desired search terms and we’ve never spent a dollar on SEO*. By normal standards of business revenue, the company would not likely be considered a great success. But our margins are unheard of in the traditional business world. I have time to work on other businesses, and my pops is now retired. With just a few hours a week we can keep things rolling. I count that as success.

Back to my point: even if we did completely fail– let’s say we didn’t make enough revenue to even cover our meager hosting costs –, think of how little we’ve lost compared to a non-internet business. Imagine the overhead involved in renting retail space, offices, paying for traditional advertising, purchasing liability insurance, accounting for loss and theft of physical assets. I guess that’s why you always hear “we stated in my friend’s garage…”

The internet is the ultimate garage. Not only can you start a low-overhead business there, but you can grow and build and run keep one running there.

Yes, the internet changes everything.**

*we did shell out $600 for an ad in a printed conference proceedings once, but didn’t get a single response from it. So we’ve taken our marketing plan back to “do nothing” :)

** photo from Ed Fladung- his site was a great source of info and inspiration for us before our time in Mexico. I was happy we got to have lunch with he and his wife while we were in Bucerias.