Every startup is a “social network” – at least, that’s the memo I got

A few times I’ve heard the term, “Two sided marketplace,” it made sense and sounded like a new concept. However, I’ve been thinking more and more about the whole market concept. A place for buyers, for sellers. Reality is, every marketplace is, “Two sided,” online and off.

Taking it a step further, every business is a network – a social one. From the local automotive shop like the one my uncle and cousins run to the clothes store to the peony business – every one of these is a social network. They depend on the word of mouth, the community, the infrastructure. Without sellers, it’s impossible to have buyers – because there is no inventory. Without buyers, all the inventory in the world won’t make a business.

Given enough mass, on either side, people talk. In fact, word of mouth is one inevitable side effect of any kind of attention, critical mass, community presence.

However, not every business does enough to cultivate each side of the market. Attract enough buyers, sellers will crawl through any hoop to get there. Attract enough sellers and eventually, the selection, scope and size will drive buyers by the droves.

Training prospects to buy, to move through a funnel – it’s a well worn track. Countless articles on conversion rate optimization, analytical tools to move a cohort through at a higher rate than before – done.

Tools to increase seller satisfaction tend to be a secondary concern. Having received checks, sold items and drove traffic from many of the top websites, the tools tend to be light. Less than optimal.

My take? If you want to build a local business, an online one or any other, cultivate both sides of the marketplace. Equally.