Today I came across trendwatching.com, an interesting company that made me aware of a trend they call "minipreneurs". This stands for consumers that are increasingly participants instead of passive audience. They write there is ...
... a vast army of consumers turning entrepreneurs; including small and micro businesses, freelancers, side-businesses, weekend entrepreneurs, web-driven entrepreneurs, part-timers, free agents, cottage businesses, seniorpreneurs, co-creators, mompreneurs, pro-ams, solopreneurs, eBay traders, advertising-sponsored bloggers and so on.
I found this an accurate observation and believe integrating this trend into business model design creates a real competitive advantage. A while ago I have written about this in the context of business model innovation at the bottom of the pyramid. Companies in developing countries that market to the Poor have been particularly innovative in weaving their customers' minipreneurial drive into their business design. Grameen Phone of Bangladesh uses microcredits and village women to sell their phone services. Anand Milk Union Limited of India has made their consumers to milk producers and exports to the world. N-Logue of India uses minipreneurs to sell Internet services to their customers through a vast network of kiosks... and so on.
In the context of OECD countries it is particularly the Internet companies that have been able to integrate minipreneurship into their business design. Google has explicitely opened up their databases of content (e.g. google Earth) to web developers to let minipreneurs come up with new business ideas. Bloggers on the most curious issues make an earning through placing targeted google text ads on their websites. Amazon has long ago made the affiliation model popular by mobilizing thousands of small, specialized and often personal websites to market Amazon books. eBay lives of minipreneurs that make their auction platform their business infrastructure... and and and.
Most interestingly for businesses I think minipreneurship points to a general social evolution in rich countries: Only few people have the luxury to chose a job they love. Most people are not terribly satisfied by their day jobs that often leave their dreams unfulfilled. It is only after closing the door to their workplace that they live out their full potential, mostly in their hobbies. Now minipreneurship allows some of them to make at least a modest earning or living on those hobbies... So companies that will allow people to liberate themselves from their day jobs to fulfill their dreams by creating a space for minipreneurship will be able ride what trendwatching.com calls one of the next megatrends.