Side-Business Software: The neglected software market

The most innovative software designed over the next 10 years will 1. be web-based, 2. will come from small teams, 3. will come from self-funded companies, and 4. will be for the “side-business” or 1-10 person business market.

The “long tail” is a buzzword. What’s real are the millions of side-businesses out there. Independent freelancers, people who work for their employer during the day and then run their own side business at night, passionate hobbyists that generate some income (and even those that don’t). It seems everyone has one these days. A little something here, a little something there. Something they love to do, or something they have to do, but the trend is clear: Many people are building their own side-businesses. And they need software (just not too much).

The big office suites aren’t for them. The big project management apps aren’t for them. The big heavy spreadsheets aren’t for them. The bloated accounting and payroll apps aren’t for them. What they crave are low/no-learning curve, simple focused tools that let them get their work done quickly and then get out of their way. And I believe they’ll increasingly prefer that these apps will be hosted by someone else — who has time for IT, or installs, or update patches, or…?

The new breed of side-businesses don’t need scaled down versions of “enterprise” apps or “small business” apps (which are just scaled down versions of the big ones anyway) — they need new types of software. They need brand new thinking. They need apps that can’t be categorized. They need apps that break the rules that no longer apply. And these apps need to be smaller, simpler, less. This isn’t about features, it’s about “what can I get done with this thing and how long will it take?” It’s about “is this better than paper?” It’s about “how is this better than just winging it like I am already?” Those are the questions. Who’s got the answers?


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