Designers interested in entrepreneurship would be wise to get familiar with Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine. In 2004 Anderson coined the phrase “The Long Tail” which describes the niche strategy of businesses that sell a large number of unique items, each in relatively small quantities. The Long Tail phenomenon is being played out a million times over by ambitious entrepreneurs on the web. Related to this, Anderson is a proponent of online advertising as a way for web-based start-up businesses to generate revenue, become viable, and find their place in the “tail.”
The Long Tail actually stems from some pretty complex economic and statistical theories from the mid-twentieth century. Wikipedia has a good overview.
But the best way I’ve found to get a quick primer on Long Tail economics as it pertains to entrepreneurs today is this short video:
This short clip of Chris Anderson at a MediaBistro conference gives a preview of his thinking and energy.
Anderson writes a popular and informative blog called (of course) The Long Tail, which I’ll place in the Merge Blogroll. Also here’s a link to his book, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More.
In fairness, there is much debate about how and whether Anderson’s vision will materialize given the light-speed evolution of social networking and the potential ramifications this will bring, but if you are a designer looking for ways to launch a new venture, don’t ignore this guy.