We've spoken in previous newsletters about the strategy of the flower - making sure that your core service or product is surrounded by a set of world-class services (the petals of the flower) to make up a compelling "whole product".
But it's not enough to just build your flower. You must also make sure that your company and its "flowers" are well positioned in the total ecosystem of your industry. Here are some things to think about, drawn from work with my clients (their identities have been disguised).
StudyCloud has a beautiful online elearning system. At trade shows they spend hours showing people all the features of their system. What they are overlooking is that the elearning space is packed with similar offerings, and buyers are baffled by all the choices available.
They need to spend less time talking to clients about their features (their flower) and more about how they fit into the elearning ecosystem. They should be educating clients about the different categories of offerings, where they fit into this ecosystem, and what makes them different.
eTeacherSkills have got a great online course to train teachers on how to use elearning. They are working feverishly to develop an even more impressive version of their offering. This is the wrong focus. Their product is already unique and outstanding, and improving it will not magically bring them the business they need.
They should be pouring their efforts into forming alliances in the education ecosystem - with government, with teacher bodies and unions, with other elearning vendors, with standards bodies and with consultants. They need to shift their focus from building their flower to building a network of relationships in their ecosystem.
Seed a system
AR Artisans have a revolutionary new product that uses augmented reality (AR) to train artisans. Because this field is so new, there is no ecosystem for it yet. No industry bodies, no third party developers, no systems integrators, no consultants, no government programmes.
This is not good - they are lacking the encompassing support system that clients want to see before they embrace a new offering. They need to both develop their flower and start seeding an ecosystem for their space.
Playing a well-defined role in a healthy, vibrant ecosystem is essential for all progress....
Neil Hinrichsen is the founder of Koi. An entrepreneur all his life, Neil has cofounded two startups both of which were acquired, and is now working to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs in SA through his Koi platform, comprising a methodology for startups, classes, coffee sessions, mentoring, the KoiTips newsletters and a thriving online group. He loves working with young entrepreneurs who want to change the world. Neil also helps Microsoft with their BizSpark programme for top startups, provides mentoring at the Innovation Hub and other incubators, consults with corporates, advises the CSIR in South Africa on commercialising research, is an accredited specialist with the University of Pretoria and serves on the advisory board for Stellenbosch University's LaunchLab incubator. On the personal side he's involved in youth ministry and mentoring township teenagers. Learn more about Koi: KOI GUIDE | EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org
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