Harris, Lisa and Rae, Alan
The revenge of the gifted amateur… be afraid, be very afraid…
Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 16, (4), . (doi:10.1108/14626000911001009).
Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to demonstrate the characteristics and impact of “gifted amateurs” who are maximising the potential of Web 2.0 technologies to grow their businesses creatively and in a cost-effective manner. They are “punching above their weight” in their dealings with larger competitors who are less exposed to these new skills and more restricted in their structures.
Design/methodology/approach – A total of 378 small businesses in the South East of England are surveyed and 30 detailed empirical case studies charting the activities of these “early adopters” of Web 2.0 tools are developed.
Findings – Proactive “gifted amateurs” can systematically raise their profile through blogging, networking and judicious use of search engine optimisation techniques. They are competing effectively against larger organisations by applying network effects to their marketing activities, often circumventing the need for increasingly complex IT systems by continuing to rely upon cost-effective Web 2.0 tools and their own networking skills as the business grows.
Practical implications – Technology has now developed to the point where the entry costs and barriers to remote and collaborative working have disappeared. “Gifted amateurs” can acquire new online marketing skills and secure IT systems, plus the ability to network and collaborate globally if necessary on knowledge projects, by creating virtual (and even disposable) organisations without having to commit themselves to a traditional IT infrastructure. Therefore they can avoid reliance on IT suppliers and grow their businesses in more flexible ways.
Originality/value – By recording the characteristics and experiences of these early adopters, this paper is one of the first to document the significant changes in business growth patterns and priorities that these tools are starting to facilitate.
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