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How Not to Start from Zero for New Startups

How Not to Start from Zero for New Startups

Looking to start a business but are unfamiliar with the potential profitability in the industry, and don’t really want to start everything from zero?

This simple tool is the perfect one for you to start with — Porter’s Five Forces Model. It is an effective tool to evaluate the existing market.

And if sometimes you are asked to analyze a market and identify its major competitors but you are struggling on where to begin; or, if you are looking to raise your company’s competitiveness in the industry, the Porter’s Five Forces Models could then be your remedy.

What exactly are the Porter’s Five Forces?

The Porter’s Five Forces Model is named after Michael E. Porter, an economist. He proposed the model in his 1979 book Competitive Strategy. While there are different names for the five forces to different experts, they are essentially the same. Generally, the five forces are as follows:

    1. Threat of Substitution

    It concerns the availability of substitutes products or services from the competitors. Porter’s definition of substitute good in the model refers to a good in another industry. The goods or services are substitutes if they can be used in place of one another. This force is affected by various factors including the cost for customers to switch to a substitute, buyer’s propensity to substitute and price-performance of substitutes.

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    2. Threat of Established Rivals

    It considers the strength of the rivalry present in the current industry.There are a number of possible factors including number of competitors, pace of market growth and diversity of competition.

    3. Threat of New Entrants

    It refers to the potential threat posed by newcomers in the industry. It is also known as the barriers to entry as it measures the vitality of new entrants in an industry. Capital costs, branding of existing competitors and requirement of proprietary technology or patents are the major factors influencing the force.

    4. Bargaining Power of Suppliers

    It concerns the ease for suppliers or factor of production to raise prices. For example, the number of possible suppliers and whether they produce homogenous or differentiated products can influence the price to a great extent.

    5. Bargaining Power of Customers

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    It considers the ease for customers to push for a lower price. To illustrate, it is more likely for customers to demand a lower price if they purchase a large amount of goods or services. Number of customers and brand name strength also affect the bargaining power of customers.

    The first three forces are from horizontal competition while the remaining are from vertical competition.

    What’s good about the Porter’s Five Forces?

    Every owner and stakeholder of a business has a question in common: how to maximise the profitability?

    By evaluating the industry using the model, we can grasp a clearer picture of the overall environment of the industry. In fact, the model can also be applied to have a better understanding of the current major competitors. Identifying their strengths and weaknesses allows us to devise a better strategy to further boost our competitiveness.

    We can also evaluate the potential of our business by comparing us with other competitors to see if the market has been saturated or not.

    On the other hand, the model tells us on what aspect we are better. Thus, we can put more effort to expand our competitive advantage in order to always stay ahead of the counterparts.

    Besides, after analysing the current and potential future states of the five competitive forces, we can seek to manipulate the forces in our favour. Adjusting the strategy can change the impact of competitive forces on the organization. A proper shift in direction can lead the company to a bright future.

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    Anything challenging about the Porter’s Five Forces?

    Despite that Porter’s model may be applied to a lot of good use, it is a little too ideal to look at the industry. The model provides directions to evaluate an industry but such analysis is based on a perfect market assumption. In reality, the market is seldom if not never in such ideal conditions so it is impossible to perfectly evaluate an industry with this model. Instead, the model is only applicable to simple market structures.

    Morever, the model overlooks a sixth force – Complementors. Complementors refer to those who sell products and services that are best used in conjunction with a product or service from a competitor. Intel and Apple are a good example which they are in fierce competition yet there is obvious reliance of each other in the industry. Taking the sixth force in account makes the model more well-rounded.

    Lastly, the model also overlooks the technology component in today’s business world. As the model was proposed back in 1979, influencing power of technology was almost negligible compared to nowadays. Disregarding the technological aspect may render the whole analysis inaccurate. Hence, the factors in digitalisation or globalisation is usually added into the model now.

    When’s the best time to apply the model?

    When is a good time to make the best use of the Porter’s Five Forces Model? For business startups, it is unwise for entrepreneurs to start a company before exploring the profitability of a new entrants in the industry. In that case, the model can come in handy to analyse the market before putting in effort and investment.

    Also, the model can be a good tool for an operating businessto fine-tune its strategies for better growth. It is especially useful when the business is experiencing stagnant progress and has no clues where goes wrong. The model may provide the answer for the dissatisfaction.

    Here we demonstrate how the Porter’s Five Forces Model can be used to evaluate a business. Two world-renowned business, Facebook and Nike, are chosen.

    Example 1: Facebook

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    The social networking market is significantly competitive and is constantly under rapid changes. Due to frequent introduction of new technologies, Facebook has to cope with the situation by continuous innovation and adaption to the ever-changing environment. Besides, the social networking market is unlike other market for its ease to enter the industry.

    Consequently, increased number of competitors intensifies the competition further, making the Threat of New Entrants and Established Rivals greater. Lastly, as the mobile market is emerging while the switching cost for users from computer to mobile is low, the Threat of Substitution is also great.

    Example 2: Nike

    The Threat of Established Rivalry is the major worry for Nike, as there is established as well as upcoming counterparts in the market. The low barrier to entry also poses a big threat to Nike as the large number of competitors will significantly impact the profitability. If Nike is unable to adapt to the customers’ trends, the growth can be severely impacted or even recorded in negative digits.

    Besides, the Bargaining Power of Customers is also worth consideration as the wholesaler can request for greater discounts for their tremendous demands.

    Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

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    Jeffrey Lau

    Editor. Sport Lover. Animal Lover.

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    Last Updated on December 3, 2019

    7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

    7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

    I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

    It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

    A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

    1. Define Career Success for Yourself

    Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

    What does career success mean to you?

    This is about defining your career success:

    • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
    • Not what people may think of you
    • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
    • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

    “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

    When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

    There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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    • Work-life balance
    • Opportunities for growth and advancement
    • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

    Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

    • What do you mean by work-life balance?
    • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
    • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

    Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

    • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
    • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
    • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

    Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

    • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
    • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
    • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

    Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

    Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

    What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

    2. Know Your Values

    Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

    There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

    Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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    • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
    • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
    • Put the words on your fridge
    • Add the words on your vision board

    Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

    3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

    When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

    How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

    Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

    • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
    • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
    • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
    • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
    • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
    • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

    Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

    • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
    • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
    • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
    • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

    Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

    By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

    4. Determine Your Top Talents

    What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

    What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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    What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

    What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

    What do you notice?

    5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

    Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

    I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

    Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

    Keep these words visible too!

    Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

    6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

    Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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    Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

    “These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

    7. Manage Your Own Career

    Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

    Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

    Summing Up

    For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

    Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

    Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

    1. Define Career Success for Yourself
    2. Know Your Values
    3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
    4. Determine Your Top Talents
    5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
    6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
    7. Manage Your Own Career

    “When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

    Good luck and best wishes always!

    More Tips on Advancing Your Career

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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