You have started a business. It is nothing massive, but you are finally realizing your dreams of owning your own time and throwing your energy into something you are passionate about. While many small business owners are thrilled by what seems like the opportunity to be free from the corporate structure, it is crucial to remember that within the current structure of information and communication networks, small business players will always be operating within a matrix drawn by large business players.


While it may seem that this point is irrelevant to small businesses that are not competing with large corporations, understanding the ramifications of this insight is key to establishing a viable business in its early stages.


Think about it like an ecosystem: biologists have pointed out that certain natural systems come to dominate ecologically by reaching “tipping points” after which the system’s dominance comes to be self-reinforcing. Biologists call this phenomena positive feedback. Many changes in ecosystems appear to be sudden because of positive feedback. When part of a system increases, another part of the system changes in a way that makes the first part increase even more.


Put most simply, success makes it easier to continue succeeding, and creates systems in which successful entities become massively dominant. The same dynamic can be seen in almost any competitive system. Take your iTunes “25 Most Played Songs” playlist. While songs may reach that playlist by virtue of being played only a few more times than other songs, once they reach the playlist, they tend to stay there. Every time you play the Top 25 playlist, the songs are played again, increasing the total number of plays and ensuring that the top songs stay on the top.


Search engine results function in precisely this way, through positive feedback loops. Certain links get more clicks, resulting in higher search ranking, resulting in more clicks.


Success creates success. As a result, no matter how innovative your new business idea may be, it will inevitably “go extinct” unless you come up with strategies to break the positive feedback loop of Internet search results.


Think about SEO consultants as trained web ecologists – they know the detailed mechanics that can be manipulated to prioritize your web site in search results, and can help break market dominance by disrupting the success-creates-success loops. More importantly, SEO consultants can give your business the push to create your own self-reinforcing positive feedback loop.