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NATURE OF THE Business
The service that I propose for the market is to offer documentation materials and other auxiliary instruments for software products. The idea is quite simple: a software product cannot be sold by itself, it needs additional instruments that can help the consumer in implementing and using the product. One of the essential tools is a manual for the software, a document that has the necessary instructions and explanations for the different functions of the application.
At the same time, every other instrument that the software application comes with will provide added value to the product. Selling a video presentation of that product, along with a couple of short training videos will increase the value that the software application has, allowing the software development company to sell a bundled package for a higher price and a larger profit in the end.
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
The strengths that I would be able to propose in such a business would be a good combination of writing and technical skills. A software manual is a complex instrument because it describes a technical process, but it needs to do so in a manner that is easy to understand by users that probably don't have the necessary technical skills. In other words, as a manual writer, you need to be able to understand the technical processes so well that you can explain them in non-technical terms.
An important weakness that is worth mentioning is that this would be a one-individual organization, which means that (1) the volume of projects that can be undertaken is significantly lower than those of a small or medium enterprise; (2) the pressures from the competition are greater; (3) the economies of scales that could be undertaken to make the business more competitive are small or non-existing; (4) overall, the outreach of such a small business is limited and I would need to split my time between the business side (finding clients, promotion, marketing campaigns etc.) and the actual writing/production side.
This brings the paper to an important discussion around the competition on this market. There are several categories of competitors that can be identified. One is similar individuals who perform the same service and who usually gain their projects through websites targeting freelance writers, such as www.freelancer.com or www.elance.com. They usually do not contact the final consumer independently, but work through intermediary websites, as the ones mentioned.
A second category of competitors are the small and medium size companies specialized in this type of services, who generally work directly with the final consumers, the software producing companies. A third category is very interesting, because it is given by the actual software developers. Many of these software development companies prefer to complete this kind of services internally rather than outsource the service to third parties. In their evaluation, this allows them to actually save money by internalizing the service.
There are two categories of potential customers that I will be focusing on. The first category has been previously mentioned: software development companies that need manuals and additional instruments to complement the products they offer to their clients. These companies should prefer to focus on their core activities and outsource those services, such as writing services, that are not part of those activities.
A second category of potential consumers interested in my services are the medium and large companies that offer the same services I do. The idea behind this approach is that these companies have a greater outreach and larger volume of projects and may be interested to outsource some of this work to a third party. In order to be able to target this second category of consumers, I would need to offer a lower rate than the respective companies do, allowing them to gain on the mark-up from their own customers.
Of the environmental factors, the most important one that is likely to have an impact on the business is the economic factor. Studies have shown that during periods of economic crisis, companies tend to internalize their operations, because management feels this is a way to save money and reduce costs. This is not always the case and my customized message should be able to show that outsourcing is the right solution of lowering costs.
Social factors could also be important in the current business environment. Social networking, for example, could help me promote my business over the new technologies, such as Facebook or Twitter by targeting groups of software developers that discuss development issues.
COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE ANALYSIS
The competitive advantage offered by the firm is represented by a balanced composition of writing skills and technical skills. One specific category of competitors -- the software development firms for instance -- possesses lower levels of writing skills. The documentation materials which are as such delivered by these entities could be of a lesser value for the customer as they integrate ambiguous and not natural expressions and formulations, but also because they could be written in a highly technical manner, as the actual developers are accustomed to this style. In other words, the competitive advantage of my service would be represented by the combination of technical information and general language specifications which make the application accessible to all customers, even the less technical ones.
The competitive position does nevertheless have to be also assessed through the lenses of the product and market matrix. At a general level, this matrix contains data on the products offered by the firm and the different markets it addresses (Market Value Solutions, 2010). In the current case however, there is a single product, and two specific markets. In terms of the competition, this is posed from three specific directions:
Freelance writers on the adjacent websites
Small and medium size companies specialized in writing / technical writing services
Software development companies.
The product / market matrix below reveals that the products offered by myself would be purchased by both of the identified customer segments. Additionally, it shows the competition which would be encountered on each particular segment.
Software development companies
Medium and large size companies in the writing industry
- Software development companies
- Small and medium size writing companies
- Freelance technical writers
Specifically, in the creation and delivery of documentation materials for software development companies, more intense competition would be encountered from the actual software developing companies, as these would seek to internalize the writing jobs in order to create cost savings. Additionally, aside from these actual software developers, competition would also be posed by the small and medium size companies providing writing services.
In terms of the customer segment formed from the medium and large size companies in the writing industry, the competition encountered at this stage would be represented by the freelance writers alone. Unlike the segment of software development firms, where competition is posed by the firms themselves and the small and medium size writing companies, the collaboration with medium and large size companies would only raise competition from the freelance writers. This is explained by the following:
The medium and large size companies have the marketing resources and the social links to attract numerous orders from various software developers and vendors. If some of the developers choose to create the documentation by themselves, the medium and large size writing companies turn to other customers as they do not rely on a small number of firms.
Then, the medium and large size writing companies create economy of scale advantages, meaning as such that the small size writing firms do not pose a real threat.
Finally, competition would be encountered in the contracts with the medium and large size writing companies between myself as other freelance writers. This competition would be based on the price offered, the quality of the writing or the deadline which can be met and would be oriented in the direction of contracting as many writing documents as possible.
As it has been mentioned throughout the previous section, there are two primary target markets, one formed from the software developing firms, and the other formed from the middle and large size writing companies. Based on the competitive analysis, the main target segment is identified in the middle and large size writing companies, as these pose the lowest level of threat and competition. Nevertheless, it is also acknowledged that the collaboration with these types of entities is characterized by the need to accept lower prices on my services. This condition is accepted in hopes of using the collaboration with the firms to gather more experience and to increase my portfolio.
Another specific feature of this target market is that the time spent in this collaboration would also be used in an effort to consolidate a network of individuals and groups which could be targeted as future customers. The problem with this objective is that the medium and large size…[continue]
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