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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 March 29, 2021

    5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

    5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

    When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

    What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

    The Dream Type Of Manager

    My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

    I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

    My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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    “Okay…”

    That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

    I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

    The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

    The Bully

    My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

    However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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    The Invisible Boss

    This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

    It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

    The Micro Manager

    The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

    Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

    The Over Promoted Boss

    The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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    You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

    The Credit Stealer

    The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

    Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

    3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

    Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

    1. Keep evidence

    Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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    Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

    Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

    2. Hold regular meetings

    Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

    3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

    Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

    However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

    Good luck!

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