What problem does your business solve and how does it do it better than your competition? This is a question that has been making rounds through our Private Community and something that any self-employed business owner should ask when evaluating their long term goals. Obviously people start businesses with the goal of generating revenue and making a profit. Besides the profit though, what is your long term strategy?
When I got started working online in 1998 I didn’t really have a business plan in place. I just wanted people to hit my website and read content I generated in my bedroom. I was fascinated by the whole idea. When I found success in the professional wrestling niche and began reaching hundreds of thousands of people every month advertisers came with bags full of cash eager to get their brand/product in front of the reader’s eyes. The website grow and the money came. My brother and I had a very lucrative business but we had yet to ponder that question.
Over the years, we re-invested some of our profits in other projects to diversify, and found success by offering services that were better than the competition. Being that my brother and I are very meticulous we never produced garbage and anything we got involved with we examined the competition and simply put; did it better. This was an unconscious effort as we still were never tested with what problems does the business solve and how does it do it better than the competition.
Quickly after graduating college in 2007 my brother and I kept churning out content and doing what we did best – hard work. The money continued to come, but as we were leveraging our career for “long term” we finally pondered that very question. January 1, 2008 we did a complete overhaul of our business model and began leveraging it for the future. We first came to a conclusion on what problem it was we were solving (where users can find out the latest happenings backstage in pro wrestling) and decided how we could do it a lot better than the competition (by producing 100% exclusive content and making tight connections throughout the industry). Finally the question was answered and the business grew exponentially.
Just recently we launched our iMobiTrax mobile tracking software. With a decade plus of experience running online businesses this question was asked from the get go and the entire product was developed around a long term business plan.
The main point I want to get across today, is that if you’re running an online business, regardless of how lucrative it is, you need to be able to answer this question. If not, one day you’ll eventually be faced with it, and have to decided what the exact problem is you are solving and how you do it better than your competition. Just because the business makes money doesn’t mean it’s going to continue for decades to come unless you actually have a plan, are setting goals, and are building long term from the beginning.
Ryan Gray is the founder and CEO of NameHero, one of the fastest growing independent web hosts in the United States. Ryan has been working online since 1998 and has over two-decades experience in Internet Entrepreneurship.