What Business Are You In?

Most business owners are unable to answer a very simple question: What business are you in? Not because they are no good at what they do, or lack the skills required to be successful in their chosen field. It is because they have not yet learnt one of the fundamental rules for being consistently competitive in business: you must view your business through your customers’ eyes.

… And?

Your post seems to have gotten cut off, just before the part where you either make a point or ask a question.

Do you have a source for that or did you just make it up? I think most business owners know what they do, but large numbers of new businesses haven’t figured it out yet and many of them don’t survive long.

Do you have a source for that or did you just make it up?

Hardly original. Most of this view can be traced back to Marketing Myopia by Theodore Levitt which argued that companies and entire industries declined because management defined their businesses too narrowly.

The now famous (or infamous, if you disagree) argument is the decline of too narrowly defining the railroad business, rather than expansively being in the transportation business.

To update this line of reasoning, 7up was defining itself as being in the citrus flavored drink business. When they defined themselves within the much larger cola business, sales increased a lot – we’re talking orders of magnitude. They did this with the position of UNcola.

Lots of people spout this line. Few can attribute it. Fewer still can riff on it as I just did.

Opposition to this cites line-extension oblivion, of course. It’s primarily a view which requires discipline to realign the business, rather than go off in a thousand directions at once.

Hardly original, indeed. And to summarize marketing myopia by saying that ‘most business owners don’t know what business they are in’ isn’t much of an observation and doesn’t do Levitt’s work justice. His classic paper discusses how companies/industries can become obsolete when they misunderstand their market due to changes in technology, communications, consumer needs, etc. - I wouldn’t cite it as a source for the notion that most business don’t know their business.

I wouldn’t cite it as a source for the notion that most business don’t know their business

While they didn’t understand Levitt, or know the attribution, or even comprehend positioning strategy, and it’s mutated into this – I’ll stick with my guess. I’ve heard similar before.

It’s merely aping something someone thought they heard, once. Pretty much the source of a big chunk of 'net wisdom: Corrupted hearsay, thrice removed from the source.

you guys are being pretty harsh on someone who simply plagiarized a little bit of content in order to get his sig links exposed

Fair enough :slight_smile:


I think he has an interesting question.

I bet a lot of startups kinda start off being in A, but then B catches their eye, and they drift a little to B, then they see C, and they drift towards C. Then they have a Frankenstein product where the consumer is like, ok I need A or B. I’m not sure if Company Alpha actually solves it.

Or can communicate/market it to the customer.

Attracted to shiny objects and easily distracted is not interesting.

my customers say’s that i’m a seo professioanl.

lol say what? I highly doubt this. Someones been reading more business books than practicing business itself.

OP is right sort of. Most businesses don’t know their real business. That’s just a misunderstanding of their clients real needs which even they rarely know. As a marketer I have to flesh this stuff out of my clients and their customers and it’s a challenging process but necessary. It’s funny seeing their face when they realize they’ve been in the “wrong” business all along.

A lot of businesses know what they do, afterall they are the ones owning the business, but must admit, the amount of website owners I see on the web that buys or sets up a website, where they don’t have a clue of how to monetize or advertise it.