Saturday, November 28, 2015

Happy Small Business Saturday

Happy Small Business Saturday.

The theme of today's post is simply that ownership matters.

Personally, I believe that the most robust form of society involves a large number of small businesses owned by people who are active in the local community.

Mathematically, one can show that networks with a distributed framework and many independent yet interconnected nodes is more robust and more resilient than societies formed in a hierarchy or dominated by a few control centers.

History provides thousands of examples where communities depending on a single business or product fail when faced with adversity, while diverse communities are able to adjust to changes.

Societies that depend on big government, big business or big capital might thrive for a moment but are subject to systemic risks which can can cause untold hardships.

The driving theme of the different project that I engaged in on the Internet is that ownership matters.

So, rather than shopping at a small business on this small business Saturday; I would like to encourage readers to think about and research the ownership of the companies with which they do business?

Look at your credit card statement. How often do you spend at a big business and how often do you shop at small businesses.

One should look through their household. Where did the stuff come from? How much, if any, of things were made locally?

You can look up your web history? How often do you visit small locally owned web sites?

I believe that ownership matters. I want to frequent locally focused small business whenever possible.

One valuable tool for researching ownership is the whois lookup. lets you look up the current owner of a domain. maintains a database with the domain history, but you have to register to use the service. (more domain related tools)

The whois record shows who owns a domain-name. Some times the the domain name is owned by a different person or group from the business. Even worse,  domain registrars push "enhanced privacy services." These services mask the domain ownership.

If you have a business; you should never use domain privacy service. Instead you should maintain a good clean registry entry with your business address. If you are own a business and are using a domain privacy service, you should cancel that service and display accurate information about your business.

The one privacy caveat is that you should not use your primary email address in the domain record because unprincipled marketers harvest publicly displayed email addresses and spam them. Since you can control the email address on your registry record; you don't need to buy privacy services.

I use the email address spam (at) community color. com to inform the user that I treat every message received by that address with suspicion. To date, just about everything I've received on that email address is useless marketing garbage.

A useful shopping tip: If you are considering purchasing something online, you should check out the whois record first. I never buy from a web site that uses privacy services. If a business is not willing to display good contact information, then I assume they are hiding other things as well. Domain privacy should only be used by opinion sites.

The Internet makes it easy to trace down owner the ownership of a domain. It is more difficult to track down ownership of businesses.

Publicly traded firms are required to post quarterly filings with the SEC. I've been maintaining a list of stocks of local concern on this page .

Unfortunately, only the largest businesses in a community are traded publicly.

Wikiepedia often has good information on huge corporations. But almost no information on local firms.

Anyway, my goal for 2016 is to track down other sources to help people figure out who owns what in their local community. There are many good sources of info on the Internet. States require businesses to file incorporation records and DBA records. Counties often have good databases on land records.

My message for Small Business Saturday is that ownership matters and that responsible consumers should be attentive to who owns what and should consider ownership in purchasing decisions.

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