Because of that extended talk with Nap and John, I realized that there a lot of ideas a marketing professional like me can offer to those who are contemplating or currently putting up a startup business. I myself am a startup founder and my business called #BOTV is still on the works. I will definitely work on this project right after I am done will all these present commitments -- isa-isa lang.
Anyhoo, below are the 4 business principles that are stuck inside my head and ready to be shared anytime to any startup founder who may need it.
1. Business Model Canvas
What I really like about this tool created by Alexander Osterwalder is that it outlays in a single sheet of paper everything that you need to know about your business. It allows you to enumerate your Key Partners, Key Activities, Key Resources, Value Propositions, Customer Relationships, Channels, Customer Segments, Cost Structure and Revenue Streams in one place. Looking at them in one place gives you a sense of unity and oneness that should be present in all the elements of your business. Without this "solid feel" about your business, it's almost very difficult to describe it in a few words -- let alone starting it. By looking at everything that you need to see about your business, you must be quick in recognizing patterns and even roadblocks that shall allow you to strategically improve on things before you finally run your business idea. The Business Model Canvas is a wonderful creation and it's free! Download it here.
What often startup founders forget because, sometimes, they become too enamored with their ideas is the importance of the "positioning" of their brand. Positioning (in my own word) is simply how your customers view your brand. It must be simple, single and solid. Before you launch your business to the market, make sure that your co-founders can explain the brand using just a few words. In fact, allow other people (in a mini-FGD, perhaps, during the conceptualization of the business) to describe to you your brand. If they find it hard it to describe your brand using just a few words, you have a problem. Tweak everything that can be tweaked -- your brand name, your logo, your tagline, your Business Model Canvas, your ads and etc. -- until you arrive at a satisfactory description of your own brand rendered by other people.
3. Blue Ocean Strategy
I learned about the Business Ocean Strategy way back in 2007 and I still believe that it is one of the greatest business principles ever invented. The book basically argues that to win in a market competition, a business need not compete. Instead, it must create its own "niche" away from the bloody ocean of competition where everyone is killing everyone. To be able to create one's own "niche", it must be able to differentiate itself from the competition. BOS suggests a practical way of doing this. Having the competition as the basis, a business must be able to Eliminate, Reduce, Raise and Create certain elements of it. For example, Ton Ton Thai Massage was able to create its own niche for itself by eliminating massage oils in its services. It then raised the use of garments in lieu of massage oils. Because of this, a certain segment of the market which dislikes massage oils during massage is being catered. Also, some market segments prefer stretching than rubbing which makes them a perfect target market for Ton Ton Thai Massage. Do not forget though that the end of BOS is encapsulated in two words -- value innovation. The result of BOS-ing your business must drive down the cost and drive up the innovation.
One of the most prized possessions that I have as a marketing professional is the book called "Simplicty: The Secret To Effective Marketing" by Sunny Goh. The book basically guns for a single principle and that is, without suprise, simplicity. In everything that you do, never deviate from this principle. Some startup founders commit the error of spending time, energy and money on some things that can be acquired in the future because they become too excited. I say, if your business requires you to spend so much money on the onset, you are in for some hard business. Remember that you have to work as fast as you can to gain the ROI. So, as much as you can, spend and focus on things that really matter for the business.