Sunday, November 27, 2011

Entrepreneur and Small business information need: Open-source library of business documents

Interesting finds today as I surf the Web searching for information for my thesis proposal. Today I found a web forum where small business owners and entrepreneurs were discussing creating their own library of open source documents. The discussion began on March 2010

From the wealth of information I find in this discussion forum, I am wondering if I can undertake a study that seeks to investigate the information needs of enrepreneurs and small businesses based on their posts on blogs, tweets and online fora.

For example, here is a post where the participant posted about the type of information needed and how it could be organised for access:

The A-Z of business development. For example; brainstorming, team building (finding collaborative tools), writing plan, looking for F&F, bank, state, angel, VC, PE funding, writing the presentations, honing the E-pitch, hiring lawyers to write NDAs, placement docs etc, getting offices (lease docs), hiring people (writing ads and designing remuneration packages), designing strategy for corporate, marketing, finding CRM tools, accounting packages, bureacracy etc etc.
That is a brain dump, it can be structured, but there is a huge list of the same tasks all entrepreneurs have to undertake!

However, the participant continues to post a revolutionary idea:

If you think about it there is actually a serious business in offering templates and advice on every aspect (sorry, can't help myself from thinking of the angles!) but can you imagine how cool it would be if we got the whole entrepreneur community to contribute snippets of their work and insight every step of the way, which would build up over time and anyone could access for free!
 The participant even goes on to make my case or point out the same business problem that I posed in my proposal:

Part of the problem is that to an extent a lot of good stuff is already out there, it is just so fragmented, and do people want it brought together? Also, people quite rightly want to profit from their work. Nivi and Naval at venture hacks have great tips, thefunded have term sheet database, y-com have some legal docs etc. To an extent bringing it together just means having connections and saying “hey buddy, got a great community idea, would you mind us aggregating your great stuff” and then filing it together in a smart manner. Ok, but largely venture hacks is a business per se, they have free stuff to sell interviews and the odd spreadsheet, but you get the idea, no need for me to spell everything out.
This is only a part of the potential database of information, most of information will come from non-celebrity entrepreneurs, though these guys would be great at getting the word out. It’s all about getting people to think of using it and them getting over perceived competition issues.
Find the best ip telephone (Someone on twitter was asking about this the other day) having spent days analysing who the best provider is for areas with bad cell signal, file the research and advice under “getting the office set up”! Business fails, upload a copy of useful docs. Why waste it all.

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