Small businesses used to have a hard time growing simply because they did not have a solid base of customers who already knew and loved their products. The larger corporations had those customers, so they were able to spend more money on advertising, thus bringing in more customers for rapid growth. It was a classic cycle of the rich getting richer, and there was no real way for small businesses to break the cycle. They just had to hope that they could hold on long enough to develop a following. Those that could not do so were forced to fold.
Now, however, the digital age has changed the way that word spreads. Websites like Facebook and Twitter give companies a way to reach fans and clients, regardless of their size. These services are free, so a one-man business can reach just as many people as a multimillion dollar corporation. Twitter, an interesting service that allows people to post up to 140 characters that are then available to all of their followers, does not give special treatment to a corporation based on its size or the amount of revenue that it can throw around.
For example, a man could start a company today selling end tables made out of reclaimed wood. Twenty years ago, he would have had no chance to make a living. He could not have competed with major furniture sellers. These large corporations would have purchased the best store locations, bought up local ad space, and stolen all of his customers. They would not have known what they were missing. With Twitter, he can reach thousands of interested people by tweeting pictures and descriptions of his goods and sales, and people will find him to buy his products. He could make more out of his garage today than he could have made out of a storefront in the 1980s.
What makes this type of growth interesting is that it works with all manner of businesses. People have experienced success selling everything from shoes to pastries. This free advertising is applicable to anyone who wants to start a company, and it means that small businesses have a better chance to grow than they ever did before. In many ways, it is like advanced word-of-mouth advertising, which has always been the best. The big advantage of online advertising, though, is that the words are preserved so that thousands can read them.