Some key tips to building a better business

At the bottom of a really good article explaining the fallacies of comparing $0.99 smart phone apps with $4 lattes at Starbucks are some good tips when it comes to building wealth.

  • Build an app experience that’s unique and doesn’t feel “easily replicated” 
  • Provide something the user sees as valuable to their daily life 
  • Package it such that it shows off its craftsmanship 
  • Find creative ways to profit off of a “free” version (Starbucks doesn’t do this…. yet) 
  • Quit complaining about money wasted on cups of coffee
If you are going to build a business, it’s important to look at what successful companies have done in the past. While the author is speaking of smart phone apps, the list he wrote above can be generalized to just about any business.

Provide real customer value. You may need to interview real customers. Talking to someone other than family and friends can provide a unique, objective feedback. Add the means for customers to fill out quick, short surveys, and you may found out about BIG issues. People rarely fill out surveys, and even rarer still when things are working great. But when something really sucks, they are more inclined to give you a piece of their mind. Make it easy for them to do such, and you will know what is really bad in your business.

Packaging is an interesting beast. I have noticed that in every Apple product that I buy, they package it in a special way so that opening it is an entertaining experience. It’s not silly and garish, just slightly sophisticated, enough for me to remember. Think about something similar that would fit your business.

Consider buying your competitor’s product and trying to use it from a consumer’s point-of-view. What was good? What was bad? What can you do to narrow any gaps where you are behind, and widen any gaps where you are ahead?

All of these things take time and money, but it is the sort of business costs you must invest to stay ahead of your competition.

This also ties in with Paul Graham’s suggestion that when you have a choice of building something easy or hard, go for the hard one, because your competitors will be more heavily taxed to chase you upstairs rather than lumber after you downstairs. If you add a new customer service, and it is easy to copy by your competitors, they can easily add it too, and then your advantage vanished. But if it was hard, they may or many not catch up. While they are working at it, you can be working on your next advantage. A string of improvements like that will set you apart.

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