20 Questions to Succeed in Business (as applied to my biz)

After reading this great article from ABC News (and Fortune) on 20 questions for any startup, I couldn't resist applying this to my business.  Although not a startup, my business faces the same challenges as any other.  With that, here goes:

What is your value proposition?

We provide simple software solutions custom designed to fit your small business.  Employing the latest Microsoft development technologies, we can design custom software that is easy to understand and use.  Simple software solutions will provide a measurable return on investment, survive organizational change and adapt to the future requirements of your business.

What differentiates your product from the competitors?

Our service is based on our core principles of knowledge, work ethic and honesty.

Does your product address a viable market?

Small businesses can benefit from custom software in a variety of ways.  Whether it's improving relationships with customers and suppliers, easing employees workload or capturing and analyzing what occurs in the business, the opportunities exist.

How much start-up capital do you need?

Practically none.  Business cards, a phone, membership in a networking group and a computer probably total no more than $1500.

How much cash do you need to survive the early years?

More than you think.  Living expenses, office expenses and marketing are tops on the list.  Ballpark:  $225,000

How will you finance the business?

I was lucky enough to work full time while building the business on a part time basis.  If I had not been able to do that, it would have been the traditional methods;  savings, investments and retirement accounts.

What are your strengths?

Knowledge, work ethic and honesty.

What are your weaknesses?

Being too shy to make cold calls.  Marketing know how. 

How big is the threat of new entrants?

It's ever present, anyone can hire a poor quality developer at a cut rate price.

How much power do your suppliers have?

Software development technologies are ever changing, thus the suppliers of our tools can drop support for a product at any time.

How much power do your buyers have?

Well, there are two kinds of power the customer can use to influence a service business.  One,  finding another candidate to provide software support is as easy as picking up the phone book or doing a google maps search.  Two, the customers set the deadlines which can cause unexpected pressure as numerous clients can have overlapping schedules.

How should you sell your product?

Stressing honesty in all communications with a potential customer.  If you can't deliver it, don't promise it and don't allude to it.

How should you market your product?

Constantly.  Networking is the number one provider for leads in custom software development. 

Does the business scale?

Nope.  For each increase in revenue, there is additional staff.  There are some opportunities to take what is learned on one project and apply it to another but that is minutely scalable.

What are your financial projections?

To net 40% of every dollar made.

What price will your customers pay?

25% under the market rate of the big consulting firms in the Phoenix area.

How do you protect your intellectual property?

Luckily, we do not have any intellectual property.

 How do you keep the help happy?

Share in the success via profit sharing.  It's not enough any more to provide good benefits, interesting work and good pay.

How committed are you to making this happen?

It sounds corny but I was meant to do this.  Experiences, upbringing, it has all lead to helping others with information technology.

What is your end game?

Retirement before death.

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