The Second Age of SMEs

World wide, thousands of companies are trying to beat the economic downturn by cutting costs. In most cases, that also means cutting jobs. Not for most small businesses though. In a global landscape that is becoming increasingly desolate for professionals, most SMEs are chugging along just fine.For the small guys, the Internet was a real shot in the arm. Indeed, Vesess would not be here today if not for the mother of networks. The advent of online communication heralded what one can easily call The SME era. With the ability to drastically reduce communication costs, SMEs were able to operate at a fraction of the cost it would normally take them. During the earlier years of Vesess (the proverbial garage era), the team operated out of Asantha’s house, cutting out all overhead, and allowing the company to grow exponentially over the next few years. Today, over half a decade later, we do have offices, and conference rooms. However, our core thinking has remained the same.Think small. Think efficient. Share the returns.As a South East Asian company, we have always been able to compete with American and European players for one simple reason – low overhead. We maintain a small team, and hire infrequently. All Vesess employees are multi-talented, and every Vesess project, bar none, is a team effort. We don’t have dinky job titles (ok, we do, but they say very little about our individual roles in the company), and we certainly dont have project leaders and supervisors. When we have a problem, we throw it to the (super secret, internal) mailing list, or just ping the people we need online.Apart from the invention of the Internet, no other global event has contributed as much to the rise of the SME as the present economic crisis. Of course, this is just a prediction, but we’re sure that posterity will prove us right. How is that possible, you ask?Cost cutting, that’s how. Small businesses generally run very efficiently. No multiple printers or photocopiers to finance, no thousands of wasted feet of floorspace to pay for, and generally, no jobs that can be axed. SMEs also aren’t usually badly in debt, and are able to run from month to month, even if it does come down to a hand to mouth situation. Thus, our contention is that the businesses that are going to survive this depression are going to be the small ones, and especially the small smart ones.When Hotelotravel, our latest venture, went into development, we all began wondering how we’d sell yet another travel site. There were hundreds out there, and we needed ours to be different.The difference, it turns out, came with the downturn. As economies weakened and pictures of worried stock brokers started flooding the wire services, we realised that we could give people exactly what they wanted this year.Money. It’s 2009, the year of financial doom for the world, and what any traveler would want is money back. HOT’s cash back feature was designed with exactly that in mind.Think small. Think efficient. Share the returns.By keeping running costs low, and using FOSS tools and frameworks for development, we are able to give a percentage of our commission back as cash on every booking. To learn more about cash back, check out our features page.The point we’re trying to make, however, is that in an economic climate like this, only a SME could afford to offer such discounts, and that it is precisely this ability that will enable such businesses to flourish despite the problems we face. For the first time in years, small businesses have the ability to truly shine, and we’d love to hear how some of our fellow players are using small and efficient business practices to attract customers and grow, despite everything going on around them.