The industrial age began with people specializing in the production of food, clothing, and shelter. Before that, a family produced everything they needed on their own. But eventually they discovered that could accomplish a lot more by outsourcing the things that they were not as good at. Specialization continued and enabled the information age. Now there are thousands of people that do not produce any physical product. They simply produce and distribute the information that is needed to make new and better products. And new forms of specialization are being invented daily. For more on the importance of specialization and outsourcing see Overwhelmed with too much to do? Outsource everything possible.
With product specialization came thousands of small shops that each sold a few of the things that were needed by a household. Often, the person who produced the product also sold it. But the number of options continued to increase and going to 10-20 shops a week became cumbersome. So over time most products have been consolidated and sold by separate companies in stores. At the same time the supply chain has been split into several layers. We now have separate companies that are responsible for things like product design, component production, production of finished goods, distribution, retail and repair. This specialization of the supply chain is more efficient and therefore lowers the cost of things even further.
Next we discovered that we could outsource services. I can hire someone to clean my home or business better and faster than I can. As long as I put the time saved back into producing something I can sell, and I make more money in the time saved than I spend on the service, I come out ahead. Businesses have been doing this for years, but individuals and most small business have yet to see the power of outsourcing done right.
The challenge is that there are thousands of tasks that I do on a daily basis that someone else is better qualified to do. If I tried to outsource each of the tasks I would have to establish thousands of relationships or accounts and would have to pay hundreds of different people. I already have over one hundred different passwords, account numbers, etc. that I have to keep track of. And there are hundreds of other services that could make my life better, but I am not using them because I do not have the time to figure-out how to use them and set-up another account. For most of us finding a source to outsource to requires more time than doing the thing ourselves.
What is needed at this point is a company or set of companies that can consolidate all of my service relationships. It would be like a store, only for services instead of products. I could choose all the services I want and then pay one company that would handle all the other transactions. But, of course, services are not quite the same as products so the services retail industry will have to be significantly different. There are some companies that are starting to move in this direction, but a lot more work is needed before we can achieve the critical mass required for these companies to see their full potential.
There are also still quite a few services that need to be started. Some of these could not survive without a thriving services retail market, but the market would be a hard sell without these services.
I have identified several different types of business that are still needed. They will work together to make a new services retail industry possible. Some of these would be analogous to retailers others are more like wholesalers or manufacturers.
Since some of them have never been outsourced before, they do not have names yet. For now I am going to name the different businesses after fruits (just because I want to).
- Taking care of life so you can take care of business.
- Taking care of life so you can have one.
- Meets with customers and builds and constantly adds to a customer profile.
- Uses the information to choose outsourcing partners on behalf of the customer.
- Maintains the relationship with the outsource vendors.
- Pays all vendors and consolidates billing.
- May provide cost smoothing so that monthly bills are more predictable.
- Takes advantage of economies of scale through consolidation of some service requests.
- Finding better ways to do everything.
- Consolidates consumer reports, Internet research, purchased research, original research, and member feedback.
- Builds decision trees that can be used by the customer (or Kiwi) to choose the product or service that is best for the individual customer.
- Incurs the cost of research once for most reoccurring questions.
- Provides assurance that the best option has been chosen
- Provides custom research of new topics and then retains the results so that the sponsor of the research can be reimbursed over time through royalty payments.
- Types of answers provided include:
- What type of product or service will best fulfill my particular need or want?
- Which product or service is best for me?
- Will this product even work for me?
- Which house/location is best for me?
- What school(s) would help me achieve my life goals?
- What scholarships am I eligible for?
- Is now a good time to sell my house?
- How much is it worth?
- What foods do I need to eat more of to balance my diet?
- Just-in-time product purchasing.
- Consolidates purchase of commodities such as food and household items and office supplies.
- Optionally delivers purchases or brings them to a single pick-up point.
- Optionally checks customer inventory (in pantry, refrigerator, and cabinets) and generates a custom shopping list.
- Saves customers money on gas.
- Finds the best price among all area stores.
- Breaks bulk purchases to provide additional savings.
- Saves customers time.
- Makes it easier to eat healthier by delivering fresh fruits and veggies three times a week.
- Taking care of business so you can take care of customers.
- Taking care of business so you can focus on the dream.
- Outsourced management for start-ups and small businesses.
- Allows entrepreneur (or Kiwi) to select board members from a highly qualified pool of professionals. Handles contracts and terms.
- Provides a highly qualified management team on a part-time as-needed basis.
- One contract covers all services.
- Partners with SBA and SCORE for business plan development.
- Office staff contracted by management team paid for under primary contract so entrepreneur does not have to handle additional paperwork.
- Putting technology to work for you
- Miscellaneous Internet help.
- Call for directions
- e-bay, Craigslist, Freecycle, etc. buying, selling, finding
- Account set-ups
- Web 2.0
- Keeping you healthy without the stress so you can get more done.
- An all-healthy, all-the-time restaurant.
- Bills monthly with frequent visitor rewards
- Has fast-food at one end and fine-dining at the other
- Shared kitchen that is also used by members to prepare meals for their family
I will probably continue to add to this list. The services retailer would also handle the relationship with the existing service types such as plumbing, accounting, real estate, cleaning, lawn care etc. but I am not going to list those since they already exist.
Can you think of any other services that should / could be outsourced? Any other infrastructure needed to make this industry function?
Are you interested in starting any of these businesses in the New England area? I would love to help you get started. Or if you would like to work for any of these companies email me at email@example.com.
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