The problem with our current “scaled up” directories (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, etc.) is they don’t really help small businesses, which in turn means they don’t help the consumer either. Granted, any business that doesn’t reinvest at higher and higher capital levels is not serious about growth. However, trying to tap into the wide blue ocean of today’s social networks helps that platform more than the user. This is true despite what the big social advertising agencies and their high profile bosses might lead you to believe.
That being said, this presents new opportunities that I’m personally looking to capitalize upon. The biggest challenge small businesses have is getting customers. The current directories are not built to help them directly, rather they help by bringing a bunch of potential customers to the platform itself and allow the businesses to pay for placements that “hopefully” attract buyers.
This is why many need to get to scale to allow ads, paid for by the business users (or their marketing reps) to fund the growth. The problem is that there are few examples of this as a profitable model.
TripAdvisor does $104 million in earnings on $1.5 billion in sales. Facebook does $11.5 billion on $30 billion in sales, earning the right to be top dawg. Yet, Yelp, Angie’s List, Yext, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. are all running deficits. I think there’s a better way, and am determined to find my niche within it.