Define the Pain Point
Define the pain point that drives your business. What customer problem, need, or want does your business address? This is a core concept you'll need to establish with a mission statement. Who is better off because your business exists, and why are they better off?
Sometimes this is obvious. A bakery supplies fresh bread. A car supplies transportation. A commercial jet takes people from one city to another.
Some pain points are less obvious. Does anybody really need hair coloring? Starbucks offers "affordable luxury." That's not an obvious need but it is an obvious want. Does anybody really need an extremely expensive automobile that carries only two people and goes three times faster than the law allows? No, but some people want that, and businesses that supply it do very well.
Here are some other examples:
What Business Are You In?
Ask yourself what business you are in, and don't narrow yourself down. One of the classic business examples is the railroads, which lost a chance to expand in the twentieth century because they misdefined themselves. They thought they were in the business of running trains on tracks. They didn't understand they were in the business of transporting goods and people. When trucks, buses and highways grew, the railroads were left behind.
My company, Palo Alto Software, is not in the business of software development. It is in the business of helping people do business plans by themselves, providing business know-how through software and documentation. The broader definition helps us understand what we're up to.
Copyright © Timothy J. Berry, 2006. All rights reserved.