Kicking off the small-business “Super Forum” at Interactive Local Media 2008 here in Santa Clara, California, Jeff Stibel, CEO of Web.com (overachiever alert, he is also a brain scientist), laid out some more ugly facts about the economy — small-business earnings not just down but way down, unemployment climbing, credit frozen, don’t even mention the Dow … So he asks, what shall we do, “curl up and hide … or look for silver linings?”
Obviously no one is going to bother giving the “curl up and hide speech,” so Stibel argued that things are “not that bad.” There is money out there; for example, the Small Business Administration has money to lend. Commodity prices are down.
To the surprise of some, Stibel took issue with some of the conventional wisdom about the demise of traditional media, in particular print Yellow Pages. He called talk of Yellow Pages being dead “hogwash.” A better way of thinking about it is that “the Internet is becoming part of traditional media.” For small businesses, “the best solution is the balanced solution.”
Also interesting from this session was Paul Ryan, CEO of Done Right, discussing his use of a print directory, the Orange Book, as part of his overall approach (remember Insider Pages?). It fit into an emerging theme that it’s not about digital replacing traditional as much as understanding how digital and traditional will coexist and complement each other.