Web-enabling Small Business
This is my site Written by Alora on October 13, 2009 – 7:37 am

At SXSW in March, I spoke to leaders of several small Web 2.0 companies that specialize in the small business B2B market. I interviewed them for an article I wrote in Social Computing Journal (for which I was Managing Editor at the time) about a new initiative they were launching, called The Small Business Web.

At the time the new association launched, there were a small handful of businesses involved: BatchBook, FreshBooks, MailChimp, Outright and Shoeboxed. The companies involved were starting the affiliation and announcing that, though a series of API-based integrations, they were offering a new capability to their customers: integration between their services. Since each solution provides a single slice of back-office functionality for small businesses, by integrating with each other, they are able to support a much more robust lifecycle of back-office activity.

The requirements for joining were simple but essential:

First, a public, demonstrated commitment to customer service.

Second, a technology solution that includes an API.

What I love about this is that, though most business people may not know what an API is, they know what it does: it makes their lives easier. It makes a huge difference in a socially-interconnected eco-system. The fact that these applications are all capable of communicating with each other, sharing vital data, eliminating duplicate entry and providing a much broader view of small business activity, by re-using the same data across multiple areas of their business.

What I love even more, though, is seeing how many additional businesses have joined the original handful since launch earlier this year. If you look at the list today, twenty-seven (27) additional companies are on the list. Not all of them have integrations (not all of them need it), but they are all companies serving the small B2B market. It is one of the first resources I send small business owners to, because it’s a great place for them to see what is available at price points they can afford.

My only lament, of course, is that unless or until we all become part of The Matrix, consultants can’t have APIs, so we can’t join.