Looking at my Business Model again – Part 1: Customer Segments

When did you last review your Business model? Is it still the same as when you started?

I first came across the Business Model canvas at the weekend new startup event I went to 2 years ago when I was considering becoming self-employed. My first pitch and business model didn’t work out, but I didn’t give up, despite several days when I wanted to, and through a process of continual improvement I eventually found an understanding of which Customer Segments to target and more ideas of Value Propositions that were completely different from my original “multiple business wide-area managed network” idea.

The first realisation was that Customer Relationships are key. They have their own box on the right-hand side of the canvas! People want excellent customer service, ideally personalised and they want to be in control, not rushed or pressured. I believe that people want to meet people face to face, somewhere they are comfortable.
Andy explains to a customer

I want to help. I am motivated best by being able to help someone else, and by having a variety of challenges. I don’t want to be ‘the IT department junior’ all my life hopping around different companies – shut in the ‘ivory tower’ behind a remote access screen or an automated form. I want to control my schedule. I want to go out and meet people at their homes or businesses, to help make their lives, businesses and hence the whole community better.

So 2 years ago, I founded Solidarity IT.

Andy explains whilst customer sits at their laptop with a hot drink

I identified there are a large number of domestic potential customers who have retired recently and now have money and time.

Some of those are interested in getting into technology – to keep connected via Skype / Facetime, social media, or even just using internet browsing and email – but face a skills barrier to overcome.

Training is needed because the systems being used today are so different from the micro-computers of the ’80s, the lumbering mainframes that were only owned by big businesses and electric typewriters / filling cabinets systems. A lot of people retire to Devon, especially Sidmouth and Torbay, so in Exeter I am well positioned centrally to reach both of these customer hubs and the surrounding small villages.

I call this Customer Segment “Retirees”

Also living in the small villages around Devon, and the outskirts of the towns and cities are people who run micro-businesses.

Just themselves or less than five people working together – certainly not enough people to have an IT department of their own.

A laptop and various modules

They are skilled in their particular business offering, and that could be anything, arts and crafts, or finance, but they don’t necessarily have access or knowledge in IT setup, maintenance, configuration, servicing, or repair.

I believe it is of value to small businesses like this to have a friendly and understandable IT guy on call to assist, advise and liaise with tech companies using their jargon.

I call this Customer Segment “Home Businesses”

There are other customer segments I could look at. Families, for example, are increasingly tech-focused and I can see expansion into providing some sort of family tech consultation time.

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