Monday, December 7, 2009

Small Business Media Comes and Goes

The heart of the American mittelstand is losing and gaining in the current media turmoil.

Bloomberg, which recently assumed ownership of the BusinessWeek brand from McGraw Hill, is closing BusinessWeek SmallBiz, which catered to ... well, the name is self-explanatory. Meanwhile, Portfolio, which was an unsuccessful big-business feature monthly from Condé Nast, stayed alive as an online-only venture. It is now being run by American City Business Journals (owned by the same parent company as Condé Nast) and is being refocused as a source of information for small- and medium-sized businesses.

A year ago, I was investigating the possibility of creating a magazine (and related media) aimed at the small and medium business. My goal was to focus on serving the businessperson who wasn't interested in going public, who wanted to build his or her business, perhaps sell it at some point or pass it along to the next generation. Within the strictures of that setup, I wanted it to be something that was as in-depth and high-quality as Fortune or Forbes.

Looking for potential market competitors, I went over the newsstand, and I found regional titles (no, had to be national) and entrepreneurial how-to-get-rich titles (no, had to be professional and about developing and growing a business) and investment titles (no, had to focus on private businesses, not public ones -- those are already covered well elsewhere). But I didn't find anything that fit what I was thinking about, so I figured I might be on to something. I started pulling together a business plan, but then a little thing called The Complete and Utter Collapse of the World Economy came along, so that idea was shelved.

We'll see what the new Portfolio does, and whether the market opening I spied still exists.

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