Creative solutions for micro-businesses!
Lately I've been reading about some really cool affordable ideas being put to action for small-time entrepreneurs. The first one is called SQFT (Square Foot). Its based out of San Francisco and just starting up. Their mission is geared toward small-time vendors who couldn't afford to rent traditional retail space but COULD afford a fraction of that amount for a fraction of the time. They are putting them together with underutilized spaces in non-traditional settings. Its a win-win-win for all concerned. When SQFT puts on an event, it brings traffic into economically depressed areas, which helps the existing businesses. It creates short-term job opportunities, making the event happen, and it brings goods and services to people in novel locations that inspire new ways of interacting with the environment. This in turn leads to all kinds of possibilities for new beginnings resulting from networking and socializing face to face.
It sounds a bit like a farmer's market but scattered along a street or around a block, instead of all in one place, and offering all kinds of stuff I haven't seen at any Farmers' Market. Like thinking outside the "block" and making it happen inside the block 🙂 The August 1 event in SF had a mini-library, complete with chess and live music, a coffee shop (including free bike maintenance) for two hours in the morning; ebay stores in the flesh, yoga, drumming classes, you name it. Wow, cool. Its happening all over and we can bring it to our towns too.
In 2010 a movement called The Better Block Project began proving to municipal governments how neighborhoods could be made safer, healthier and more vibrant if some of the restrictions on small businesses and multi-modal infrastructure were lifted. It reminds me of the Occupy movement, but beyond opposing what's going on in the corporate world, it is proactive and designed for the sake of creating community and breathing life back into depressed areas. Creative Currency is who got SQFT going. This is all very exciting.
Another cool idea that I read about accommodates small-time entrepreneurs that are on business trips and don't have expense accounts for lodging at fancy hotels..its called Startup Stay, out of London. Its an internet platform kind of like a Match.com for small-time operators looking for affordable lodging, even down to a couch in someone's house, and it has spread to 418 cities and 75 countries in eight weeks!
I learned about both of these new ideas from a website called Good.is They have a lot of good news, and it sure helps balance out some of the less than good news going around. This quote is the silver lining for the dire economic state of the US economy: "A recent study showed that for each month starting in March 2011, 543,000 new enterprises have been launched in the U.S." Now that truly is Good news. Small business has long been touted as the backbone of the economy; micro-business is the backbone of small business!
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