A New Information Market

It is always great to buy something! Who doesn’t appreciate this specific state of fulfillment, just after a closed deal? It’s not so much the item itself that generates it, rather than the facet of ownership which pleasures us in some fascinating way. Unfortunately, in my particular case, that feeling used to be quickly overwritten by a state of devastating disappointment. There was always someone who felt the need to let me know that he or she found exactly the same thing to a better price. For that reason I learned to look the other way when I sense the chance to receive information which I really should have had the day before yesterday. This method allows me to balance my mood stages inside acceptable parameters.

Avoiding exposure to information may be a suitable technique for one or the other when it comes to arrangements circling around the private life. With regards to entrepreneurship, it really isn’t. Being able to obtain relevant information, and to use it earlier than others, is key to success. Therefore it’s one of the main challenges every startup and even established enterprises deal with every day. The conditions for this kind of race, however, are very different to an athletic competition. Some are always more privileged than others when it comes to receiving the right answers.

Throughout the years of analyzing small and large business development, I came to find out that running a successful company is rarely associated to great and innovative ideas, or exceptional drive for achievement. In most cases the path one chooses in life is mainly a consequence of circumstances which are heavily influenced by the given environment one finds himself encapsulated in. This transfers also into the professional world.

If you think of restaurants in large cities, – real restaurants, not franchise fast food places – you’d probably agree that certain establishments appear to exist since your childhood, while multiple others open and close, never to be heard of again. Admittedly this can be associated to a diversity of causes and effects. Nevertheless, if we leave out the variables and stick to constant conditions, one characteristic always stands out. That one apparently makes the difference. Successful gastronomes’ usually maneuver inside a sophisticated network. They either constructed it over years themselves or simply took it over from a family member. This structure usually consist of: wholesales experts, suppliers, transport and logistics individuals… you name it. They spend a significant portion of their time communicating inside that network. Consequently they stay informed about what quality products are currently available to what price. How quickly they can get those, and what’s the outlook for the next days or weeks with regards to the availability of transportation, personal, storage and so on.

If you came that far through the text, you may or may not remember what I initially suggested to be the ‘key to success’ factor for any entrepreneur. Correct! It’s the ability ‘to obtain relevant information, and to use it earlier than others’.

Now, while the little restaurant example is meant to illustrate the first part of the statement, let’s focus on the second; -the using it earlier than others portion.

It shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that also here communication is the fundamental enabler. Once we identified what we can get, where, and from whom for the best price, it’s essential to let those peers know that we want it. Right? After this has been achieved, the next step would be to advertise the availability of our products or services to a potential customer target group. The restaurant owner with his great network of friends is again in a very convenient position. He already knows who he is going to address. Hungry people in the area. He puts out a sign or two and lists his current offers in the menu. In general Startups are hardly as lucky. During launch or reinvention stages it’s more frequently the case that businesses need to feel out to their main customer base. Even with a great concept in place, that’s not easy. Often it actually takes more time than little companies can afford.

The internet helps with that. Search engines, social networks, open source market studies… , all of these things make it a bit easier. However, everybody who ever tried to come to the ground of specific information that would drive the revenue upwards, knows how hard it is to get a hold of such info. A Facebook friend doesn’t always react as friendly anymore ones you start asking questions that relate to his or her internal business procedures. The LinkedIn CV expose of a product manager or engineer doesn’t help you much further with most of your questions either.

To summarize it: Valuable information is tough to obtain, because it is not different from any other precious item. People don’t want to give it away for free.

It appears as if currently available social networks don’t address this just yet. We are missing a platform that allows to target specific information needs. Entrepreneurs want to build networks which allow them to either get valuable information or to provide it. The reliability of sources should be tracked by rankings or references. No one likes to be flooded with useless data. The most loyal business partner is that one who benefits from a relationship. We refer to it as mutual benefits realization. Both, the providing and the receiving party should realize whether they are the right individuals for a partnership quickly.

It is to be expected though, that there will be some kind of digital information market on the web. Just like any other marketplace, users will find what they are looking for, validate quality, discuss prices and eventually agree on a transaction method in order to finally close their deals.

Eventually there will be no need to look the other way anymore. No reason to be second or third in line.