A company for 2008 and beyond.

While I was pondering the last few weeks about what to do with my new “retirement” spare time and my newly-negotiated rights to SD Tracker, I was spending time surfing the net (I can’t golf 24 hours a day). Several different things came together in my mind’s eye as a flash of intuition. My son-in-law Shane is ahead of me on this, but for me it was an epiphany. As I said in my prior blog, I was weighing options – full-time retirement (lots of golf), another exec position in a start-up, my own company, writing those books I’ve wanted to write, or something else. But what? What form would my days now take. And that’s when I realized that there’s a new kind of corporate structure starting to appear for 2008 and beyond – and it shows a lot of promise. There were three prongs that came together to form my ephipany.

First, my daughter Julie had been pursuing (in addition to working on her PhD) an alternate type of job in multi-level marketing (MLM). MLM – own your own business, build recurring revenue, have independence and financial security. She saw mlm as the alternative to years of 8 AM to 7 PM jobs with no vacation, pressure and only whatever savings you could religiously put aside to use at the end for retirement. Instead, her thought process was that the NextGens should push to break out of the envelop and look at work and life differently. I mean I loved being a co-founder in a start-up and building a traditional business. But when it came down to the bottom line, it’s the VCs that almost always win the big bucks and the rest of us are back to the grind stone. Recurring personal revenue – could that be the key? But after years of dedicated determination working to build the team needed for the sustained income that the MLM dream paints as the reward, she found pitfalls in that you still need to rely on the parent company’s management to not make dumb decisions, not jack the prices up, not make marketing decisions that totally wreck your game plan. So that didn’t seem like the nirvana it claimed to be. So then what?

With my semi-retirement and newly found time on my hands, I was browsing my son-in-law’s website since he’s been after me to add a blog, but, well, although I’ve been building web-based software for years, I must admit I haven’t jumped on all the social networking sites (FaceBook, YouTube, and the likes) and haven’t taken to blogging. Shane joined with a partner Peter to start a new company Shane & Peter and their business is skyrocketing. I have to admit I didn’t see it as a real business for the first few years – I mean the guy was giving away websites in exchange for everything from the wedding cake to the wedding dress (not that I’m complaining – it sure did help out on wedding costs). But then I started reading his blogs and I think he and his friends may be onto something here. It’s a new type of business model and it seems the internet is a-buzz. New internet companies are springing up and everyone is trying to figure out how to convert them from hobbies into substantial money-making ventures. A bunch of them are referencing Shane’s articles on Shane & Peter. Shane seems to have hit upon the goldmine approach and is leading the charge from the old type of corporate structure to new companies forming instead that are network of consultants, contacts, other companies like them. Shane & Peter can quickly and effectively put together a team to meet the needs of major corporations. Shane & Peter’s client list is impressive and proves their new corporate structure works. So that was the second prong, the second “Ahah”.

But it’s not just occurring with the NextGeners. The third prong in the wheel was when we (my husband Mike & I) traveled last summer to Canada and on the way stopped off at friends house we haven’t seen in years. Bob was one of the first folks I knew to leave the big company (Microsoft) and venture out on his own starting The Socrates Group. That was bought by another company. Today he has re-started The Socrates Group but in an entirely different structure – a group of loosely-networked consultants. Not everyone needs to belong to the real “company”; most are independendent contractors. Starting to sound familiar? It’s allowing him to be independent, creative, but maintain control of his own destiny. Same solution for a Baby Boomer hippy as well as a NextGener.

So I’m thinking that it’s 2008 and time for an entirely new type of company. The individual entrepreneur, the loosely linked team of professionals working their own way on their own time. See Shane’s blog linked to my home page. Shane and Peter started their company in a coffee shop but as their friend Quinn blogged Coffee Shops are So 2005. Quinn’s “office” is his fully equipped, satelitte antenna/wireless VW camper. So what is the Corporation for 2008 and beyond?

I’m not sure what it “is” but I know I want to move into 2008 – it’s time to combine the joy of living on a duck pond (my new company motif) while linking with a wide assorted network of professionals leveraging their talents and together providing more benefit to existing major corporations than any of us could individually or as part of a single large corporation.

That’s what I’d like Duck Pond Software to be all about – exploring a new kind of company and helping other companies while I’m at it. Because regardless how the software is being built and the projects and services are being implemented, the basic processes remain the same.

Because just as the old aerospace tools and techniques were refined and simplified over the years and for my start-up, Azerity, made us lean, effective, and efficient, those same web-based tools and simple basic methodologies can help the NextGen companies (and even ex-hippy companies) in 2008 and beyond.

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