One of the biggest challenges of my startup journey so far has been defining exactly what the overall proposition my business offers/will offer. In case you didn’t know, I’m launching a digital marketing and communications consultancy. The very word ‘consultancy’ alludes to a service, however is it wise to build everything around a service basis?
Product and Service?
After much scribbling, thinking and a little bit of swearing, I’ve decided that my proposition will be split over services and products. The services will be based upon consulting, i.e. a business buying my time and access to my experience and expertise. This may never result in the actual provision of a ‘product’ as such. The other side of the coin are the products. These will be ‘off the shelf’ products that solve a particular need or appeal to those that perhaps don’t need full-on consultation style support. It may be a tricky balance to maintain, but I see no harm in testing this model out.
I’ve not even properly launched the business yet, so to think about a time where I may wish to sell it is crazy I know (I may never of course!), but it is wise to think about the value of the business to a potential suitor. If I build the business on the services, i.e. my brain, then will it ever be attractive? Afterall, my brain is not for sale, I like having it in my head. However, if I create a careful balance of the two and build some brilliant products, then those properties are saleable.
The Danger of a Product
A product can almost always be bettered or copied. Can a service that relies on experience and brain power be bettered? Well, you can’t invest in research and find a way to inject a brain with years of backdated experience. Yet. A fully product led business may be fragile, but stronger if the services around it are solid. Anyway folks, all food for thought…
Have you struggled to define your business as a product or a service? Does it actually matter? Can you put a price on brain power? Do share your thoughts below!
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One response to “The Big Startup Question – Are You Building a Product or a Service?”
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