- Writing a Business Plan
- Financial Statements
- Business Forecasting
- Business Checklist
PART 3 - COMPETITION
Six (6) categories of competition have been identified. 1.universities, 2. colleges, 3. government sponsored entrepreneurship programs, 4. bookstores, 5. companies offering business training products, and 6. companies offering business opportunities .
Most universities offer Business Administration or Commerce degrees as part of their curriculum. These educational institutions, however, pose no threat to J&B since their clientele is not part of our target market. In most cases, if not all, students spend four years and tens of thousands of dollars to be trained how to manage other people's businesses - not their own. In other words, universities do not specifically target or recruit people who want to establish their own business venture.
Some Colleges, on the other hand, do offer one or two year training programs geared towards entrepreneurship. Moreover, these colleges "claim" that the students, at the end of their training, will be equipped with the skills necessary to own and operate their own business. Whether or not these claims are true is irrelevant since these educational institutions recruit individuals outside J&B's customer profile; and therefore pose no threat.
3. Government Sponsored Programs:
Federal Governments in Canada and the United States sponsor hundreds of entrepreneurship training programs each year. Participants, usually un-employed or social assistance recipients, enter into a class-room setting for approximately one year to learn how to own and operate their own business. The government, in most cases, pays all training costs including each participant's un-employment or social assistance during their period of enrollment.
In talking with several employees responsible for approving such programs, they indicated these programs have not provided the desired results and therefore will soon be reformed or abolished as early as March 200W. As a result, we do not feel the U.S. or Canadian governments will interfere with the success of J&B.
4. Book Stores
Book stores offer a variety of books targeting entrepreneurship. The majority of them, however, deal with how to write a business plan. In our market research, we have purchased several business books from a variety of book stores and discovered many inadequacies. The reading material did not provide the following items;
Book stores are viewed as a competitor since they are easily assessable, and tend to be one of the first places people visit when seeking information. With this in mind, J&B is currently researching the feasibility of expanding its distribution network to include book stores. If viable, J&B would see itself publishing a "business manual" which would be sold in conjunction with its software. Please Note: this initiative will NOT materialize until such time as J&B has the financial stability to compete directly with larger competitors.
5. Companies Offering Business Training Products:
Many companies offer business training products to individuals wanting to start their own business, however, most of them target those needing to develop a business plan. Some companies do offer training in basic business practices and procedures but for the most, the information is skimpy and disorganized. Others provide computer software along with basis business training to assist the aspiring entrepreneur in developing their business plan. In our research, we have not found a business training product that provides such a diverse range of topics, nor have we found one that uses hypertext technology. Below lists a few of the larger companies who sell business training products and who are considered major competitors.
Plan Builder is one of the most popular Business Plan programs on the market. The product consists of two components ; text and software. The text or manual component briefly explains business concepts and theories, while the software component allows users to "fill in the blanks" to create a business plan along with five year forecasted financial statements. After purchasing Plan Builder for research, management found it to be extremely difficult to understand and use.
The product is distributed through mail order and throughout office supply stores. Their large advertising budget is mainly spent in popular business magazines such as Success, Entrepreneur and Profit. Their target consumers consist of existing business owners, consultants and corporate executives who need to create business reports or business plans. Their advertisements do not suggest that they target individuals who want to start their own business. The price of the product is $159.95 (US dollars).
Business Publishing Incorporated
Business Publishing Incorporated offers "The Entrepreneur Program" to individuals wanting to start their own business. The Program consists of 15 training manuals, each filled with 20 pages of so called information needed to own and operate a successful business. Each manual costs $16.98 for a grand total of $254.70.
Business Publishing Incorporated is a large company that spends millions each year promoting "The Entrepreneur Program" through direct mail. Their promotional material positions the Program as a premium product guaranteeing the success of any aspiring entrepreneur. After receiving their training course for a 15 day free trail, this image of high quality soon dissipated.
In summary, "The Entrepreneur Program" is targeting individuals who want to start their own business, their large promotional budget is primarily spend on direct mail, their distribution channel is direct mail, their price is too high and their product is fair, at best.
Business & You Magazine
Business & You Magazine offers over 120 business training products. Courses range from "How to Start an Advertising Agency" to "How to Run a Sports Shop". Each program sells for $69.50 (US dollars).
They recently introduced a 1,100 page business training product entitled "The Business Encyclopedia". According to their advertisement, the Program consists of discussions from "business experts" who have owned and operated several ventures in the past. J&B has not purchased this program, however, summit that many of the training topics are similar to our product. When inquiring about the product, their out-of house service bureau didn't know if the course content catered to individuals interested in starting a business. The sales operator, however, did indicate that the product was a "useful" tool for existing business owners. The product costs $399.00 (US dollars). Please note: J&B's product in hard copy form will be presented in a similar fashion to The Business Encyclopedia.
Business & You Magazine is a large organization that advertises "The Business Encyclopedia" along with many other business training products in its monthly magazine. Customers call a toll-free number for information on these product and order by credit card only.
Other companies offer similar products to the ones presented above. All business training products currently available on the market come in hard copy only. Our product is differentiated by training content and delivery. Moreover, with the exception of the hard copy form, J&B offers its business training course in software form - something that all other competitors have yet to do.
Since the above companies/distributors, as well as others, are large in size, with greater purchasing power, J&B plans to compete away for these entities. This will be accomplished through message delivery and media selection. Furthermore, it is our intention to compete directly against smaller, less significant companies. Number 6 below provides details on these entities.
6. Small Companies Offering Business Opportunities
Under the "Business Opportunities" section of newspapers & magazines, several companies offering "opportunities" to individuals interested in self-employment can be found. The majority of these companies are small, home-based entrepreneurs who promote network marketing businesses. In addition, they generally have an extremely small advertising budget and a short life.
As mentioned earlier, J&B's strategy is to complete directly with these entities by promoting in similar media. As prospective customers inquire (call) on each company's product, ours will reign superior; resulting in high sales. As you will see, this strategy also satisfies J&B's distribution objective.
Strengths & Weaknesses:
In terms of product strengths, J&B has many distinct advantages over the competition.
The above points are considered Distinct advantages, and thus separates our product from competitors. For additional strengths, please refer to Appendix # 4 entitled "Useful Product Features and Benefits".
J&B's major weakness is financial. Moreover, our financial resources does not match those of major competitors. As you will soon discover, the Company has developed several objectives and strategies that will combat this weakness and allow us to successfully compete and prosper.