Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The perfect fractalized enterprise

I encountered a terrific example of a fractalized enterprise a few days ago. A friend has started a business that takes professional photos of children's sports events and then sells prints or other items (coffee mugs, mouse pads...) back to the parents. It combines his interest in photography with his daughter's passion for sports and parents seem to love the opportunity to purchase professional quality photos of their children.

What is really amazing to me about this business is how Bob uses technology to create a business that appears significantly bigger than the one person shop he really is. The Internet provides a mechanism for Bob to outsource every part of his business that isn't core. Here is the formula:

Web site hosting company: YahooDomains
E-Commerce Storefront: PhotoReflect (specializes in photography e-commerce)
3-4 photo processors, all available on the web (some are better at posters and prints, some are better at mugs and mouse pads...)
Accounting and CRM: Intuit
Receptionist and personal assistant: CallTrex (my own company)

Add in a few friends who enjoy being weekend photographers and are willing to work for $10 an hour and a local camera shop that rents high-end photography equipment (REALLY big lenses for those close up shots from across the field) and you have a complete business set up for almost nothing.

This is the kind of entreprenuerial engine that the Internet can enable. Bob focuses on his "Core" -- marketing and sales -- and he uses technology to martial a set of organizational fractals that come together to serve his "Context" and present a unified face to the end customer.

An interesting idea -- what about creating a set of "recipes" for people that would like to start their own businesses -- essentially a list of the organizational fractals needed to construct a given type of business?

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