A VBOs Best Friend – The Long Tail!

You’ve likely heard of the long tail.

If not, it is a concept coined by Wired Editor in Chief, Chris Anderson in 2004.  

The concept is that our culture and economy is shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of mainstream products and markets.  It is increasingly moving toward a huge number of “niches” that make up The Long Tail.

The Long Tail is the VBO’s Best Friend!

The concept is that collectively there is as much demand for these niche products and services as there is for the mainstream offerings that were only provided by big companies. Traditional business models dictated that you could only have a profitable company if you had a solution for the masses. It just wasn’t economically feasible to market to these tiny niche markets. Think about the Long Tail in terms of buying books.  

We used to buy our books from Borders or Barnes & Noble. Based on physical constraints, they were only able to carry 200,00 titles (or something like that).  

Then came along Amazon.

They now offer over 2 million books. Essentially 10 times as many books as you would find at your local book retailers.  

While my numbers may be a little off, you get the point. This changed the rules a couple of ways.  

First, you now have access to more niche books that cover exactly what you are interested in - not just mainstream topics.  However, (more important to you) it gave 1.8 million more authors platform to sell their information. The big part of the Long Tail shrunk and the Long Tail itself grew.

Understanding this is CORE to your VBO Strategy... I would offer that the Internet was the beginning of The Long Tail, but Cloud Technology brought it into the mainstream.  

When I started my first Internet Company in 1995, it was extremely expensive to get anything done.

Just to have a website required you to buy a server (or several) at $10,000 a pop. Then, you had to hire developers to create everything from scratch.  There was no WordPress to develop sites.

No Shopify to launch a store. No Google Analytics to track your performance. What cost over $1,000,000 dollars to create back then can be done for $5,000 today. At one point I had a string of Dell U-40 racks with development, staging and production servers.  

Each rack (loaded with servers) ran about $250,000. That was the small expense.

Buying the software, configuring them, and maintaining them was the expensive part.  Let that sink in.

While the Internet gave you access to a global market, the technology was so expensive that it was mainly a playground for Venture Capital backed startups.  That same company can now be launched with just a couple of thousand dollars.

In many cases, a VBO business can be launched with a couple of hundred dollars.

I would offer while Chris Anderson was spot on with the Long Tail Theory, it wasn’t until Cloud Computing Technology hit the mainstream in 2013 (or so) that the Long Tail really started to take off.

As the Long Tail continues to grow, it things like “Capital” (banks), and “Knowledge” (Corporations) are no longer a requirement.  

The emergence of the Long Tail puts the power in the hands of YOU - the VBO.

The best part of it is you don’t need a college degree or a big bank account. You simply need to have the absolute desire to change your life and the fortitude to stick to your plan.

No Niche Is Too Small

Fast forward to today. Let’s say you wanted to create an online community for people that are interested in Egyptian Mau’s (a rare cat breed). While I know nothing about these cats, my guess is there are enough people that are passionate about them to create a community.

In addition to offering a wonderful place for them to share pictures and stories about their cats, you could likely figure out information, products or services that are unique to them. I’m just using this as an example, but you get the point. 

The Internet, combined with access to incredibly powerful technology that is dirt cheap changed the rules of business forever. You could start this business while keeping your job.

At the end of every day, you could log into your online community, write a blog, and look at what products you sold that day. If done correctly, in a matter of months your little online community would start “competing” with your day job in terms of dollars it produced.  

At some point, you would be able to prove to yourself and your family you had graduated to a VBO Pro.

We are here to help you get there! Regardless of what your passion is, there is an opportunity for you to create a lifestyle out of it.

Jim Murphy

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