On the Internet, today is “Back to the Future Day,” because in the movie “Back to the Future Part II” (1989), Marty McFly travels to October 21, 2015 and, well, it doesn’t take much to entertain science fiction buffs.


Thanks to the Internet Archive Way Back Machine, you can see what the home page of SmallBusiness.com (in the hip-lower-case lettering of internet 1.0) looked like in 2001.

(Click on the image to view the Way Back Machine’s archive version.)

smallbusiness-2001

A brief history of SmallBusiness.com

By Rex Hammock

Since its founding in 1991, Hammock Inc. (Hammock.com), the company that created and manages SmallBusiness.com, has developed customer media and content programs  for clients who market products and services to small business owners and managers. While in those early days, we were best known for publishing magazines for such national clients as NFIB, we also were developing digital media for small business audiences  since the days of Compuserve.

Such early digital work for clients like Northern Telecom and First Data Corp led me to register the smallbusiness.com domain name in 1995.

From 1999–2001, a small team from Hammock joined a group of talented developers and online community managers to start SmallBusiness.com. It featured peer-to-peer advice from many people who are today’s best-known small business bloggers and influencers.

That community grew to more than 100,000 registered members, with advice contributed by thousands of them.

Unfortunately, the company called SmallBusiness.com did not weather the “dot.com bust” and was closed in 2001. It was awful and despite what I and others write when trying to explain how opportunity works, failure sucks.

Despite the failure of the business, that company spawned many successes.

People who worked at the pre-2001 SmallBusiness.com have gone on to start and sell businesses to such companies as Intuit and PayPal. Others have started such Nashville-based technology firms as Emma, the email marketing company. And others have played key roles in leading and growing Nasvhille healthcare companies like HealthStream.

While the company SmallBusiness.com closed in 2001, the content created by that small business community served as the DNA content used to create an early version of what is today the SmallBusiness.com Wiki (SmallBusiness.com/WIKI) in 2005, a user-created resource with close to 30,000 pages of information today.

Back to the Future

During the summer of 2013, a team from Hammock began adding the types of content you now see. (But the Wiki is still here, also.) Our focus is on helpful how-to and explanatory content that is designed for optimal display on the smallest screen a small business owner is using at the time he or she needs an answer or to fill a gap in knowledge.

Hammock’s business is creating and managing media and content-rich sites like this for marketers who serve audiences of big companies and small. (And we still publish incredibly powerful print media that people love. They are called magazines; maybe you’ve heard of them.)

SmallBusiness.com serves as a great lab for us to discover what works, and what doesn’t, while serving a community we belong to and respect.

While I find the past and future interesting, my favorite time is now.

I don’t need a hover board when I have today.