Have you ever wondered what happened to those Blue Bird school buses we grew up riding? One by one, individual Latin Americans bought more than 1 million of the retired kid haulers over the past 20 years, rebuilding their engines in makeshift garages and painting them vivid colors to attract a new type of customer – the working class tracking to the super highways of Central and South America to make business.
Before having kids I traveled through Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua via these “chicken buses”. Outfitted with rooftop luggage rails to boost their utility, each bus had a driver and ayudante, or helper, who conduct transit routes from one large city to another, stopping frequently between towns and villages. The ayudante hangs out the door waving and shouting destinations, making change and helping each passenger aboard while loading and unloading produce, grains, textiles and all manner of fowl. While not very comfortable over long distances, this third world transit system is extremely efficient and prolific, beyond the control of bureaucrats and corrupt governments.
Our first world increasingly depends on the Internet to drive our commerce needs for the working class. While large corporations provide the majority of transactional services, smaller business needs can often be serviced only through the efforts of micro initiatives led by a freelancer or small business, sometimes called a microbusiness. Microbusinesses are defined by the U.S. Government as organizations with less than five employees, small enough to require little capital ($35,000 or less) to get started. Microbusiness owners are the people who refer to themselves as soloists, independents, consultants, craftsmen, artists, musicians, freelancers, free agents, and self-employed people. The majority of these companies are one-person enterprises and operate out of their homes – many have part-time help from a family member or friends. Most are creative and adaptive, reusing ideas and protocols to serve a niche market.
Most websites are tended by an independent website manager running his or her own “MicroBus”, onboarding clients who need help providing branded information and managing social media.
Rather than focus time and energy on reinventing technology, the MicroBus will reuse software and contract discount modular services to save money. A Word Press website, for instance, with added Woo Commerce purchase functionality makes a lot more sense than a custom PHP eCommerce front end.
Despite grumblings that bigger corporations have boxed out the small business man and woman, we find plenty of space, the client base for Internet initiatives growing exponentially year after year. Do any search on Google and you’ll see the millions of websites delivering services to the working classes, one MicroBus at a time.