By far the biggest source of annoyance for me in the WordPress community is the vast divide between smart services that add value to the web, and cheeky services whose only goal is to make a quick profit. In nearly all cases, these “cheeky” services are aimed at up-and-coming site owners, who have browsed enough forum discussions and blog posts to be considered dangerous, yet who almost never possess the pragmatic maturity or technical insight to make rational decisions that put the health and prosperity of their web presence (and business) FIRST, rather than their own whimsical fantasies.
There is a reason why 90% of new businesses fail within the first 4 months. And there is also a reason why 90% of “services” being hawked to website owners are aimed at stroking the budding ego and inner-geek of these wantrepreneurs rather than actually solving long-term problems or adding long-term value to their enterprise.
“Part of me suspects that I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.”
― John Lennon
From “drag-and-drop” site builders, to “opt-in” plugins, to Super VIP!!! memberships, the vast majority of allegedly B2B services these days targeting small business owners are in fact B2C commodity products aimed at giving wannabe entrepreneurs a quick path to feeling like they’re part of the club — whether it’s the Online Business Owners Meetup of San Diego, or the OFFICIAL-GROWTH-HACKERS-CON at the downtown Hyatt, it doesn’t really matter, as long as it fits on a LinkedIn profile.
In the post-Four Hour Work Week (A.D. 4HWW) world in which we now live — a world now flooded with Web 3.0 DIY “cloud” services like Shopify, Wix, Hootsuite, and LogoMakr.com — everyone is now an entrepreneur.
While this latest iteration of the internet has resulted in some legitimately cool and powerful platforms and APIs, there is a terrifying, almost hilariously-large gap between these revolutionary infrastructures and the squishy, sensitive, Instagram-snapping, Netflix-watching man children prowling Google for “ecommerce software” after watching a TED talk that inspired them to pursue their lifelong dream of selling pottery online while they work part-time at Whole Foods.
There are perhaps four reasons, ultimately, why so many site owners try to go it alone:
Because really, who needs professional agents or agencies anymore, when we are all such unique, capable snowflakes?
Indeed, THERE IS HUGE MONEY in selling bullshit to wannabes. Whether it’s Urban Outfitters or Hubspot, Apple products or Yoast SEO Premium Ultra Version™, it’s not often the hackers or experts or revolutionaries buying or using or recommending this hyperinflated junk, but rather the clueless and the desperate (unfortunately, they are loud, and many).
And while many out there may consider Steve Jobs or Brian Halligan or even Syed Balkhi “genius” for being able to monetize useful idiots by the million, they will never be remembered for having added any value to the world. (P.S. if Hubspot is the best shit that MIT engineers can come up with these days, future generations are FUUUCKED.)
But if genuine success is what you seek, young snowflake, it’s time to grow up, and change your thinking.
The most exciting thing for SMBs these days should be platforms and APIs that not only change the world (and business) for the better, but that also create opportunities for networking, competition, and legitimate B2B interaction.
I’m of course talking about things like CloudFlare, DigitalOcean, WooCommerce, SendGrid, and dozens of others.
Companies that aggressively attempt to monopolize and pervert the economy while jerking off the inner ego of consumers should scare the hell out of SMBs — not only the millions of independent developers and agencies whose clients they are trying to steal away, but the business owners who are being conned into proprietary systems completely lacking in customization options or marketplace freedom. This probably will require a future blog post, but I’m talking about investor-backed companies like Apple, Amazon, Shopify, Wix, and many more soon to come.
Likewise, when it comes to scaling a website, there comes a time when every business owner goes through a sort of mid-life crisis, it would seem. A few years ago, perhaps, they setup a store on Shopify, and started selling some things as a hobby. As the site grew, they researched some things, and realized that WooCommerce would probably give them more flexibility to code various features into their site, and so they switched over to open-source WordPress. You see, they heard about something called Magento, but it was way over their head, and they read that WordPress was a bit more user-friendly while still offering a powerful CMS solution. Now, they find themselves at a crossroads, because for months they have been trying out all the drag-and-drop builders and SEO plugins and lions and tigers and bears, OH MY! that they found with all their Google searches and Facebook groups and entrepreneur coffee clubs, but it still has just proven too frustrating and time wasting to “get just right.”
This is the point at which business owners diverge: the rational problem-solvers who know their weaknesses will inevitably seek out THEIR OWN best practices and solutions, while the whiny, self-absorbed ego-strokers will hit a glass ceiling as they spin their wheels trying to show off to peers, drowning slowly in a sea of platforms and plugins and applications and Meetups. The moment at which you realize investing in your team and business — delegating tasks and customizing your approach (not just duplicating others or relying on a $40 plugin or template while blaming your web host or theme author every time something goes wrong)
Here at LittleBizzy,
Ultimately, trying to “solve” all website issues by yourself (with “products”) doesn’t make you smarter.
Au contraire, mon frère… It actually tends to make you stupider. MUCH stupider.
If you are serious about success, stop playing business, and start making some pragmatic decisions. This means doing what is right for the growth and reputation of your business, rather than what makes you feel “cool” while you type loudly away on your Macbook at the local Starbucks. Because, newsflash, nobody around you gives two shits.
What the web needs more than ever is not another investor-backed SaaS or spammy DIY Premium Plugin but dozens and hundreds of LittleBizzy’s (forgive my boldness) and WordFence’s and Wistia’s that are bridging the massive gaps between Web 3.0 infrastructure and “serious” small business people. With less emphasis on spammy junk and more focus on adding value (paired with education), a vast competitive OSS-supportive market will continue to grow online, far out of the greedy clutches of bankers and proprietary
And while you’re at it, stop playing webmaster, and hire a damn developer.