How is your business going to stay on top in a competitive world? Is “Edge Strategy” the answer?
Most reckon that finding a “gap in the market”, a genuine under-served niche, is the Holy Grail of business planning.
However, any fan of Indiana Jones (or Monty Python) knows that the quest is risky and may end in failure. Too often, the “gap in the market” turns out to be just a gap, with no market.
But a business which doesn’t look for new opportunities runs the risk that its competitors will find them first. So how can you avoid being left behind on the road of progress without risking a long journey on the road to nowhere?
Alan Lewis and Dan McKone, in their new book “Edge Strategy” (reviewed here in the Economist), think they have the answer. Lewis and McKone say that you should look for new opportunities, but you don’t need to travel too far from your core business to find them, only as far as “the edge” of what you are doing at the moment.
One way of doing this is to find new sources of profit which link to your existing products. Upselling on accessories and extra services is hardly new. Anyone who has ever bought a home appliance will have experienced the hard-sell for an extended warranty. But have a think – is your business really stretching the boundaries of its existing market? If not, there may be an untapped opportunity to grow, without the risks involved in a complete change of tack.
Patenting on the Edge
The advantages of “edge businesses” ring true for patent attorneys. The incremental improvement is often the invention which is easily and cheaply protectable, simply because the technical field is narrow and isn’t crowded with prior art.
These patents can prove to be very valuable. But too often such inventions are overlooked in favour of the “big new idea”. If you see an opportunity “on the edge” of your business, don’t forget to protect it if possible. Otherwise, your competitors will benefit from your creativity and hard work at least as much as you do.
A piece of advice
Do bear in mind the UK Patent Box, which can save you considerable sums in tax on sales of patented items. R & D tax relief can also be used to offset the cost of developing new “edge products”. If you need assistance in identifying and developing an accessory, then the product designers at Duku may be able to assist you in finding that product on the edge.