Blue ocean for solopreneurs? Reconstruct your boundaries.
Candidly, the ability to recreate, modify, enhance, or redefine industries is my all-time favorite business topic. Redefining and recreating one’s life is my favorite personal topic!
Chapter three of Blue Ocean Strategy starts with “The first principle of blue ocean strategy is to reconstruct market boundaries to break from the competition and create blue oceans.” The challenge is to identify and implement countless opportunities for blue ocean growth.
The authors of Blue Ocean Strategy found clear patterns for creating blue oceans. Research of companies and industries led to the identification of six basic approaches. Over the years, validation of these six approaches has been codified as the six paths framework.
In this post, blue ocean strategy for solopreneurs; reconstruct your boundaries, path one; I’ll go through the first framework.
Again, my goal is to translate the tools and frameworks shared in the book meant for enterprise applications into language that is more applicable to the small business or solopreneur.
Blue Ocean for Solopreneurs. Reconstruct Your Boundaries.
To break out of bloody red oceans of competition you have to break away from industry defined boundaries and norms. Utilizing a system and a process for doing so is the key to successful blue ocean strategy inspiration and innovation.
Let’s examine one of the six today.
Path One: Look Across Alternative Industries
In a broad sense, you compete with other providers in your own industry but also with other providers that produce alternative products or services. Keep this in mind, offerings that have different forms but offer the same functionality or core utility are often substitutes. On the other hand, alternatives include offerings that have different functions and forms but the same purpose.
Substitutes for one another may be cloud-based CRM systems. Alternatives would be a cloud-based CRM versus a Rolodex.
What are the implications for the solopreneur? Let’s look at a tangible example. Sandra is an attorney with a niche practice in corporate entity formation and general corporate law. Alternatives to her work may include self-service entity formation through one’s specific Secretary of State’s Office.
In Tennessee for instance, one may form a corporate entity within 30 minutes and 30 minutes later have an EIN tax ID number. Alternative two may be leveraging the expertise of an experienced CPA with entity formation experience who consults with numerous start-ups. All three are very different and all serve to meet the same need.
Sandra would be well advised to ask, what are the alternatives to my industry? She would learn that the state’s online entity formation process is more sophisticated and useful than in years past. She may find that great CPA’s who have experience in entity formation give great tax advice that leads to the right choice in entity formation.
The possible lesson? What might Sandra learn from looking across these industries? Might she learn how to streamline her offerings to leverage technology? Might she learn from the CPA to offer tax advice in collaboration with her counsel so as to upsell the businesses coming to her for work? How might value be added to the customer while simultaneously lowering the cost to her practice?
In this post, blue ocean for solopreneurs; reconstruct your boundaries: serves to prompt your thinking about what your customer’s alternatives really are.
In assessing your industry alternatives, ask this. Why would your customers and especially your non-customers choose one alternative over another? By focusing on key factors of competition that lead to trade-offs from one alternative to another, you may plot implementations that lead to blue oceans.
Contact Sherman G. Mohr, The Blue Ocean Strategist, to learn more about how implementations of blue ocean strategy are process-driven. If you’d like more information regarding the Blue Ocean Strategy for Solopreneurs Mentorship Cohort forming up soon, contact Sherman via the contact form today. The group will be small and tightly focused.