From The Living Room To China
Somewhere in a musty room in India, a business owner makes a transaction from din of his living room where his internet connection stretches from the plaster wall. Across the globe in New York City, another business man accepts the transaction from his studio apartment office. What do these two have in common besides their strange office arrangements? They do not allow their geography to limit their business capabilities.
Before the age of the internet, business was limited simply to the local geography of the businessman. A home business owner in Michigan had to do business with clients in Michigan for the most part. Furthermore, he was limited to those who lived within a reasonable distance from him. He would market his product using the United States Postal System, and he would receive moderate gains from much hard work. Today, the small home business owner has the world at his fingertips. Geography no longer makes much of a difference. As a result, a man living in Iowa where the cost of living is moderately low, can make the same amount of money as woman in Los Angeles where the average monthly apartment rent could pay for a month’s mortgage of our Iowan’s house. The growth of home business in conjunction with the internet has led to a better life style for those living in lower income locations. The man in India will gain the same price as a person in New York City, while their cost of living may vary exponentially. It’s amazing to think of what the internet has done thus in the home business world.
Furthermore, the internet has vastly affected the worldviews of those in the home business world. Now they not only understand life across the street more, but they understand life across the globe. For example, let’s say a home business owner in Portland corresponded with another business owner in southern Thailand in November 2006. They had a pleasant correspondence and business transaction. In December when the devastating tsunami hit southern Thailand, this event no longer became just another story in the paper for the Portland business owner. Instead he cared. He wondered about his business contact, and an event on the other side of the world became real to him.
Before the inception of the internet, only large corporations had a decent understanding of global change and effect. They worked with people across the globe, and thus when a civil war broke out in the country where they had just sent representatives, they cared. Today the average home business owner can easily correspond and conduct transactions with other home business owners across the world. As a result, their personal circle of acquaintances just exploded. They now care about the civil war across the globe as well, and some even seek ways to help and make an even larger difference.
Small home business owners understand the value of working across the globe from their home. They use their own location as a benefit instead of a hindrance that it would have been 30 years ago. Instead of complaining about the bleak country side and decline in jobs in their local town, they simply sit in their home office and conduct another transaction.
We must recognize, at this point, that the internet has led to some negative impact on the typical home business as well when the business owner relies solely on it. The home business owner loses a sense of genuine community, and some even replace the live community with the virtual. They exist in chat rooms and forums as user names instead of neighbors that grill on the deck and discuss the weather with their neighbors.
Thus while home business owners can now conduct business from our living room to China, they must remember the responsibility that they have to their local community and find a balance between their online world and local world.