Some of you know that Nora and I started a new venture last year, South Mountain Rabbitry. If you wanna just skip to the good stuff, go to WabbitCam.com.
You know what?
90% of small business websites suck farts out of dead seagulls!
Because the people who feel like they "have to have a website" have essentially zero knowledge of how to put one up or how to maintain it.
When Nora and I set out to start our rabbitry, Maryland's first specialty Flemish Giant house, we went to the net. We looked for breeders from whom we could get good breed stock, people who had rabbits available. People who could describe what they had, when they had it, what they wanted for it, and how we could go about seeing and buying the rabbits.
We were dumbfounded by how crappy an experience it was.
To be fair, when I founded my website back in December, 1994, it was awful. Low-res GIF images, links to other sites laden with low-res GIFs, and a lot of cutesy icons.
Well, an amazing number of websites in the world are still stuck in 1994. You know the scenario... they got their son-in-law "who knows computers" to set up a website for their crafts website, or their auto-body business, or their stud service or remodeling and contracting business, and no one has touched the site since that kid went off to college. Or California. Or jail.
Bouncing skulls, flaming penguins, cheezy MIDI Titanic soundtrack music that repeats and repeats and repeats.
At the bottom: Last updated: June 24, 2001.
You wanna know where your next opportunity is? Hold your nose. You would be truly astonished at the number of people out there who still need a way to host a reliable website where they (not you) can update their content, where they (not you) can hear from their customers and where they (not you) can change the look and feel to suit changes in their business.
You aren't going to make a lot of money off these people, individually. Years ago, I worked for a consulting company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania owned by a couple of brothers who used to be IBM S/34 and S/36 salesmen. In their world, it was nothing to bill clients $100,000 for setting up a million-dollar IBM midrange system. However, they brought me in as a low-end Netware specialist, and they just didn't understand that their potential clients weren't going to put up with paying $50,000 to set up a LAN they'd spent $13,000 on. As a result, I left before their business model imploded, which it did in 1992.
Same thing now. Someone who has a $40/month cable modem account isn't going to spend $5000 on a website. But they might spend $300 or $500, if you give them access to a setup where they (not you) can make simple changes to the site theme and layout and where they (not you) can change the pricing on their baskets or needlework or cycle frames or cheese.
You've got the tools right there. Domino is a spectacular platform for SaaS and content-management. Look at something like the BlogSphere template (hey, Declan!), which can be adapted to so many different options with no major coding. Look at what you've seen with XPages. take those clients, offer them hosting on a stable, secure, email-enabled Domino platform. They get all their company email inquiries in their regular old mail client (even if it's Outlook). They can jump on and edit prices, products, stock and pictures and not feel like they're spending their time being computer geeks. They don't have to call their son-in-law.
Sure, they won't ever be the next General Motors. But they will be valuable customers.
But think of all the Lions Clubs, the local softball leagues, the rabbit breeders' societies, the guys who trade Chevy Nova parts. They need what you know, but they can't pay for a massive dedicated system and they really shouldn't have to.
Make it easy for them. Make yourself a fortune. Sorta.
And get to know a lot of great people along the way.
And rid the world of the bouncing skull menace.
1. Turtle02/05/2009 03:02:27 PM
2. Bill02/05/2009 08:53:57 AM
And before you foist it off on your customers, use it yourself. I'm stuck dealing w/ a CMS system that is fine as far as it goes. But it offers no ability to upload a file. Want to post a PDF of an event brochure? tough shit elliot!
Fortunately, the club that uses this crap doesn't change it too much and the design (we can't change it) isn't too bad and we didn't pay the person who set it up. But the file issue is annoying us.