We’ve been working on this thought – it’s incomplete at best – but it’s the beginning of something.
The funny thing is, it’s not even an original idea – it’s just one that needs a name.
Recently we’ve become increasingly aware of how many people we see commercially embracing their avocations. We have come across people who are taking hobbies or creative capabilities and, by utilizing comparatively low-cost technologies and embracing online marketplaces, are expanding their potential reach and testing the true size of their target market. This process is exactly what we have been going through at ButterBoo as we launched our own site, posted products on Etsy and recently started testing our designs on fabrics at Spoonflower!
Now, the D.I.Y. trend is nothing new – and uh, the internet has been here for a long time. Recognizing that some of us still remember when we bought books at book stores, wrote thank you notes with a pen and paper and typed college applications on a typewriter – what’s compelling here is the economic opportunity the combination of the two offers. At a minimum, the proliferation of small businesses on the web proves that it e-commerce really does democratize capitalism.
Clearly the process is not without its drawbacks – and the internet does not solve all problems. As an example, if a business idea requires skilled labor, we have found through ButterBoo that sourcing cheap labor at small quantities can be a challenge. On the other hand, the web has facilitated our ability to source goods at wholesale prices which has kept cost of goods low. The ability to easily contact manufacturers or distributors of products, who are also using the web as a resource, is significantly easier than it would have been 15+ years ago…
One really interesting part of this trend is how many of these people with small commercial avocations remain otherwise employed full-time. Now, it could be that a scientific study would find that the trend is not as wide-spread as we perceive it to be, but it is interesting nonetheless that many people are exploring these “silent careers” without having to give up their full-time employment. The fact that technology can help test the validity of a small business idea without risking the current economic livelihoods of its creators, is a fascinating concept, don’t you think?
(BTW, see that phrase – ‘Silent Careers’ – catchy no?)
There are so many reasons to love the idea of the silent career – but the most compelling is the potential impact these efforts have on the broader economy. In short, an expanding economy relies on businesses exploring new ways of increasing productivity. While we recognize that the largest impacts on growth will come from the largest businesses, every positive impact matters.
Further, it is inspirational to see that people exploring silent careers are willing to bet on themselves and use their own personal ‘down time’ to pursue this expansion while simultaneously doing something they love!
And while this sentiment clearly speaks directly to what we are doing at ButterBoo we see the trend as having much farther reaching economic impact than its lack of press coverage gives credit for. We see the silent career path as having value not only for those embracing their silent careers but for our economy as a whole.