In astrological terms, "dark matter" is an elusive substance. According to Martin White, professor of physics at UC Berkeley:
"We believe that most of the matter in the universe is dark, i.e. cannot be detected from the light which it emits (or fails to emit). This is 'stuff' which cannot be seen directly."And yet, dark matter might be having a big impact on the universe due to its gravitational effect, just as we detected an unseen Neptune long ago by its pull on Uranus.
In business, there is also dark matter. The dark matter of business are those transactions that take place in your industry without your awareness of them. It's the stuff you don't see, and that you don't know you're missing.
What disruptive innovations will take place to radically change your business? What competitor will come along and challenge your bottom line? What customers are you missing?
Who's the 800-pound gorilla in retail today? Wal-Mart, right? The mom and pop stores never saw that coming when Wal-Mart first came onto the scene and challenged local businesses.
But look at Wal-Mart again... the online world hasn't rubbed out Wal-Mart like Wal-Mart rubbed out the mom and pop stores, but it's funny how Amazon sells mom and pop items and how eBay has its plethora of stores from mom and pop operations. Some people buy from eBay and Amazon far more than they ever set foot in a Wal-Mart.
Does this concern Wal-Mart? Do you think this impacts Wal-Mart?
Did you know that eBay gets twice the visitors to its online site than Wal-Mart does? 51 million for eBay in a month versus Wal-Mart, which had 24 million. Amazon also handily beat Wal-Mart, as Amazon had 43 million visitors in a month. The youngsters whooped up on the gorilla.
Wal-Mart has dark matter - business that happens without Wal-Mart's awareness. It bugs 'em. And it should. They're working hard to catch up.
Just as dark matter should bug you where you work. Whether you're the owner, a manager, or an employer. You can't miss what you don't know, and the attractive tug of what some unseen competitor is doing might affect the traffic to your store.
Where's the dark matter for your business? How can you tap into it?