Posts Tagged ‘marketing’
Monday, July 5th, 2010
Microsoft’s Failure (s)-essays on Microsoft
Many product development, marketing, and project management programs in the world’s leading universities love to use Microsoft as an example of how not to develop a new product or service and then, subsequently, how not to bring that new product or service to market. While some of Microsoft’s most popular programs such as the Windows operating system and its Microsoft Office suite of business productivity software are extremely successful and extremely profitable, they are increasingly the only areas of the company’s business that are although the Xbox 360 product is somewhat of a success anomaly but only partially so. The fact remains that Microsoft is such a good pinata to use in business schools because it completely fails to understand just how integral a company’s organizational culture is to its creative DNA. For example, product managers and marketing professors love to point out just how much Apple’s success relates to its inherent ability to create and innovate in areas that are increasingly far afield from its original computing platform.
In contrast, Microsoft, which has all the money and capital necessary to create and innovate without equal in the industry continually, fails to do so. The company’s efforts to introduce new products such as the Kin One and Kin Two mobile phones and mobile phone platform which have been recently discontinued after just a few weeks on the market and some 10,000 sold are illustrative of just how much the firm’s executives do not “get it.” This is just a long line of products and services that the firm has thought that it would revolutionize the consumer markets with. For instance, did you know that Microsoft once touted a Smart Watch service it coined SPOT and which would transmit data over FM radio waves to subscribers? Right, I didn’t think so but this product was available on all major online retailing sites such as Amazon.com, among others. Of course you are familiar with Zune, Microsoft’s digital music player, the perennial also-ran in the industry? What about Microsoft Bob which was a program developed in 1995 that was designed to make the Windows platform easier to use for computing novices? Right, customers that wanted a computing platform that was easier to use just bought a Mac and the company’s executives, once again, did get that rather than develop yet another program to interface with a GUI designed to interface with the computer’s underlying OS maybe it should just redesign its GUI—whatever.
Microsoft is the stuff of legend for all the wrong reasons and business school programs love to discuss its market failures like the Playforsure technology that, as it turned out, could not play with anybody’s digital music platform because of the company’s ridiculous digital management software and, in fact, once it was cancelled none of the files could even be played on the company’s new digital music platform which was the Zune. In short, Microsoft seems be mired in endless layers of organizational bureaucracy, be controlled by a top-down mentality, have a product/service development process designed to attempt to manipulate the consumer rather than design based on consumer demand, and to be inordinately focused on maintaining its dominance through proprietary business models.
Tags: business productivity software, computing, marketing, microsoft, microsoft microsoft, microsoft office suite, music, platform, project management programs, radio waves
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Thursday, February 11th, 2010
Tags: 3-year profit loss, Business, business financials, business plan, business plan help, business plan templates, embed src, financial statements, height, information and technology, IT business, IT company startup, IT consulting, lulu, marketing, marketing plan, name, p&l, param, param name, prewritten business plans, profit loss, sba, small business administration, small business loans, startup costs, technology company startup, type application, value, width, x shockwave flash
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Monday, February 8th, 2010
The Five Most Important Steps to Writing a Business Plan Introduction
The following five steps to writing a great business plan are not meant to minimize the importance of the other steps, stages, or components of a business plan. However, these steps relate to certain recognized components of the typical business plan that, if done poorly or inaccurately, undermine the overall integrity of the entire business plan itself. So follow these steps meticulously and then fill in the blanks with the other plan components and you will have a document that is certain gain you the investment you need to be successful.
Step 1—Writing a Knockout Executive Summary
The Executive Summary is perhaps the most important part of the business plan but is also the step that should be done last. The Executive Summary contains the most important elements of the business plan such as what the business concept is, who developed or conceived of the business concept, and how much money or funding is required. Yet, the Executive Summary does not contain every single element of the business plan but only the most critical. In this respect, it should be noted that the Executive Summary is often the first and only portion of a business plan that is actually read. Bank officers and busy executives that are tasked with identifying new investment opportunities do not have time to read entire business plans unless they are for businesses that have actually been selected. In this respect, if you have a winning Executive Summary then you have more of a chance of having a winning Business Plan. The Executive Summary should have the following characteristics: • The Business Concept should be prominently stated in a single sentence in the beginning of the summary • The length should be a page or less • The objectives, as in funding and support, should be very clearly outlined
Step 2—Writing the General Company Description
This step is often overlooked by would be business people or entrepreneurs. However, detailing what the business actually is one of the most important steps in the business plan. If the business concept or description is vague then the reviewer will be less inclined to fund or support the project. Be descriptive but be accurate and concise in describing what your business actually does and how you intend it to be accomplished. Additionally, you will want to provide the business’ official classification or NAICS code so that it is clear that this is a recognized industry with established markets. The general company description also includes more detail about who conceived of the business and why this business is important and why it will be successful. But, do not write a novel and remember that this is not creative fiction. You are not trying to be the next Hemingway but rather the next Warren Buffet!
Step 3—Writing the Marketing Plan
This is the step in the business plan writing process that is the most complex and most demanding of time and resources. The Marketing Plan requires extensive research and planning in order to result in a useful document. There are a host of topics that a great Marketing Plan requires but some of the more critical are: • The Industry Overview: this section informs the reviewer of just how big the targeted industry is in terms of customers as well as overall sales revenues for all competitors—this section basically says why this business is worth getting into • Target Market: this section informs the reviewer of actually who your customer is. This too, is extremely vital information because if you do not know who your customer is then you cannot design advertising to reach the customer and your business is destined to failure—find out who your customer is by identifying demographic details such as age, gender, income levels, and such factors as education levels for example • Competitor Analysis: understanding who your competition is and why they are successful or even failing is a measure of how you will succeed or fail as well. This section should be on actual local competitors in your local market because this is who you will actually be competing against By ensuring that these sections are researched fully you inform your audience for the business plan than you are not only passionate about the business but are willing to invest the time and effort to become knowledgeable about management, leadership, and the overall industry.
Step 4—Writing about the Management & Organization
The Management and Organization section of the business plan is where you introduce yourself and your proposed business to your audience. Just as you meet people in person with a firm handshake and eye contact, so too should you introduce yourself and your company in a business plan. This is accomplished by offering short but detailed descriptions of each business officer that is selected to manage or fulfill a position within the company. This includes their skills, education, and experience without embellishment. Additionally, you must detail how your company is to be structured; i.e. as a corporation, a sole proprietorship, or similar. Then go on to describe the organization and how its management will be structured, such as with a Board of Directors or similar.
Step 5—Writing about the Startup Expenses & Capitalization
While the financials within a business plan are important, those figures are more often than not pro forma or essentially educated guesses. What business plan reviewers really want to see is: 1) how much is the business actually going to cost to startup and 2) how much money do you have and anticipate having. That’s it. These two figures can effectively kill your business if they are not accurate and truthful. It is easy to state in the financials on the income statement, for example, that you expect first year revenues to be 20% over operating costs but if your startup costs are high and capitalization is low, reviewers are going to question how you actually intend to generate these types of revenue projections.
Tags: 3-year profit loss, Business, business concept, business financials, business plan, business plan help, business plan templates, components of a business plan, concept, Executive Summary, financial statements, marketing, marketing plan, p&l, Plan, plan introduction, prewritten business plans, profit loss, sba, section, small business administration, small business loans, startup costs, Step, typical business plan, Warren Buffet, writing a business plan
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