Given the recent economic uncertainty in the world, I find myself reading more stuff about economics...a field which I currently find far more complex and fascinating than SEO.
I came across an article pitching the idea of another potential great depression. I don't know if that will happen, but these 3 bullet points from that article are particularly appealing to the entrepreneur in me:
- Circa 2000 – It doesn't matter that Internet stocks are trading at multiples of revenue because 'these companies are going to change the way we do business'.
- Circa 2005 – It doesn't matter that people are borrowing 125% of the home purchase price because 'the price of homes always goes up'.
- Circa 2009 – US government 'T-bills and T-bonds are risk free', so the federal government can borrow unlimited amounts of money. This example of bubble-mentality thinking not only ignores the defaults by countless governments, it also ignores the history of US sovereign defaults (gold in 1933 and silver in 1967) as well as the continuing debasement of the sorry US dollar from inflation.
Whenever and wherever people are looking to pay for certainty and safety, they are paying a premium for that privilege, often yielding a net negative real return. The future does not mirror the recent past, but we are inclined to operate in a herd/bubble mentality. This, and our emotions, are why it is so easy to lose money in the stock market. By the time US actors and rappers are asking to be paid in Euros, all the dumb money is on that side of that trade, and the market is about to shift the other direction.
Business opportunities are like buses, there's always another one coming. - Richard Branson
Business opportunities are like buses, but you can't just sit around waiting for them to pull up. If an opportunity has to be "proven" before you are willing to try it, then maybe there won't be much opportunity left by the time you go after it. If there is already a "make easy money using xyz" ebook on the market, then the opportunity is probably already closed for most new market participants.
Group-think is the enemy of success. You usually have to create and believe in the value system you are selling to others for it to spread. You can't create the ideas and movements that spread if you are only following someone else's lead.
How does this concept of uncertainty vs profit potential apply online?
- Overture (and Google) built their search marketplaces on uncertainty
- early domainers built their empires on uncertainty
- the first bloggers built on uncertainty
- those trying new online business models and publishing formats right now are building into uncertainty
I got on the web in 2003, way late to the party (and broke). But in my first year of observing the web I saw that search was going to become the center of the web, noticed that domain names were important (buying domains SeoBook.com WhiteHatSeo.com BlackHatSeo.com & SearchEngineHistory.com), and quickly built a blog (because I saw other bloggers getting lots of links - primarily because they published blogs).
Simply by interacting online and observing trends you can see where the web is headed in a way that most people can not. Where others see risk, you see opportunity. Your knowledge of fields like search, blogs, commerce, affiliate marketing, and adverting lower the risk of failure for any new project you start. Each additional discipline you are aware of adds value to your other skill sets.
The cost of testing things online is minimal. Even less if you already have built up a widely read distribution channel. In the coming years new trends will augment or take the place of blogging, search, and domain names. But you have to be willing to "take risks" if you want to reap big rewards.
With ads falling off a cliff, people have been ramping up other attempts at monetization, looking for ways to be better than free and find new ways to monetize their data.
Facebook is trying to study sentiment (could that be used as an investment tool)? Fred Wilson highlighted the bloat that exists at many Web 2 companies, which holds them back from profitability. Chris Anderson, who promotes the concept of free with his new book, notes that free is pushing against its limits, and entrepreneurs are going to have to start charging during a period of limited VC backing:
What about the oldest trick in the book: actually charging people for your goods and services? This is where the real innovation will flourish in a down economy. It's now time for entrepreneurs to innovate, not just with new products, but new business models.
Time to catch the bus. Are you feeling "risky"? Today is the day. No point waiting around until things seem "safe." :)
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