Think “Process” NOT “Software”
On Saturday evening I met a gentleman who had been attending football games at Stanford for 53 years. We started to talk about Stanford football which has always been one of my favorite topics. Later our conversation drifted to entrepreneurship and he told me a story about how he recently advised two former homeless guys that started a diaper and toilet-paper distribution company. The lesson he gave me is to “sell what the market needs” – go here for more on this fascinating story.
As someone in the enterprise applications software industry I often dream up ideas for new, innovative products. The goal is always to solve a business problem. Lately I have been interviewing business owners and asking them the following question:
“What are your two or three biggest pains”?
Here are the most popular answers:
- CASH FLOW: having cash to run the business
- PERSONNEL: while “personnel” is somewhat of an archaic term for human resource professionals (“human capital” seems to be the new phrase) one business owner told me that people are important because “during bad times they will help you, during good times they will help you”
- LEADS: one business owner told me that during good times generating leads is not as important as during bad times such as now
These answers are fascinating because, while they are challenging problems, solving them requires changing business processes. Software consultants and salespeople often like the peanut-butter strategy of answering every question with the words “yes, our software can do that” ;). The reality is that software alone does not solve most problems.
The next time you work on entrepreneurial ideas or are trying to sell enterprise software think of how you can solve your customer’s problems with better business processes.