Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Building a startup for what you want it to become 1: building to offer complete solutions to real problems

Posted in startups by Timothy Platt on April 4, 2015

I have been writing about startups for as long as I have been writing about anything in this blog, and for a good reason. I have spent a significant measure of my professional life working with and studying these businesses, and I have derived a great deal from working with the entrepreneurs who have founded them.

Much of what I have been writing on this, as organized into my Startups and Early Stage Businesses has focused on the immediate here-and-now of initially founding and building a business. And in that regard I cite two specific series that have gained a measure of attention for that:

• Understanding and Navigating Burn Rate, and
• Online Store, Online Market Space (which I initially wrote at the request of several entrepreneur colleagues.)

Both of these series can be found at the above cited directory page, with my burn rate series appearing as postings 67-78 for its Parts 1-12, and my guide to building an online business startup appearing as postings 20 and loosely following for its Parts 1-32.

But I have also written about next steps, and with those discussions going fairly far out past startup or early stage business contexts per se. In that regard, I cite my 35 Part series: Moving Past Early Stage and the Challenge of Scalability (see my above-cited Startups series, postings 96 and loosely following.)

My goal for this posting is to at least start a discussion that would connect together these divergent timeframe perspectives. And I begin that by sharing a fundamentally important observation:

• Build your business in your here and now, but build it for what you want it to grow into and become.

Think big for this. How big are the largest and most successful, competitively dominant businesses in your industry and target market space? What would you have to build your company into being able to offer, in order to effectively compete head-on with these giants among your competition?

I am not writing here of building your business so that it can become a clone of your competitors, but rather about building your business so you can competitively offer a combination of products and services that at the very least matches them for:

• Volume of sales,
• Levels of incoming gross revenue and profitability and
• Level of market share captured and held.

But I start this discussion from a more fundamental point, and the issue of what your new business would offer.

• As initially planned, would your main, primary products and services offer essentially complete solutions to specific problems and needs that your customers face?
• Or would you primarily offer add-ons and supplemental offerings that would connect into and support other business’ solutions to those problems?

These are in many respects trick questions, as how you answer them is at least as much a matter of how you group and package, market and sell what you offer, as it is of what you offer to your markets per se. As a very real-world case in point example of that point, an after-market automotive parts manufacturer could see their product offerings strictly as repair add-ons and no more than that – and simply as add-ons to others problem solving products and services-based solutions. Or they could see and market their offerings as crucially important solutions to marketplace and customer problems in and of themselves – in bringing their customers’ cars and trucks back into working condition after they have broken down in specific ways that your company would help remediate, or as customization features that consumers would see value in.

• Even if you primarily seek to offer marketable products and not services per se: think and plan in terms of offering complete product and service package offerings, with supporting services added in where appropriate – where they would cost-effectively make your products more attractive to the consumers you seek to reach, making your business more competitive as a result.
• Build your business so that you can offer complete solutions to real problems and complete offerings for meeting complete consumer needs.

And this brings me to the closely related issues of price points, and building for repeat business. I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will delve into the questions of combined-packaged offerings and their economics, and offering packages of offerings that synergistically support each other for sales and for building customer loyalty. And in anticipation of that, note here that I will address what I mean by the word “complete” as used in my last bullet point, above. Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at my Startups and Early Stage Businesses directory.

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