The Fortune 5,000,000

I really like the idea of The Fortune 5,000,000.

This is from the 37 signals home page:

Who uses our products?
While our products are mainly built for small businesses and individuals (we call this group The Fortune 5,000,000), companies of all sizes use them every day.”

It’s a nice way to describe the opportunity of creating software for the long tail of small- and medium-sized businesses.

But, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that this much larger group is in any way similar to the handful of large companies or government departments where many technology people spend their careers working on multi-million dollar projects.

OnStartups.com lists some of the differences.

To paraphrase:

  1. They don’t have the cash to pay big up-front fees for software.
  2. So, you can’t afford to spend lots of money chasing sales (instead, focus on building a great product which people will find useful and tell their friends about).
  3. Compared to the pain and hassle of a custom built application, a simple hosted solution which they can buy and start using right away is likely to be quite attractive.
  4. As such, they will mostly be happy to take the software as-is rather than expecting to have much control or ability to customise to their specific requirements.
  5. They don’t get a lot of love from the software industry today, so there is a massive opportunity to fill that gap.