Friday, August 29, 2008

Zipf’s Law + Blue Ocean Strategy = Business Viability

Zipf’s Law
It say the Winner will get twice as much as the Runner-Up, and the Runner-Up will get twice as much as the Second Runner-Up. For example, the Gold Medalist will get 100K rewards money, and the Silver Medalist will get 50K and the Bronze Medalist will get 25K.

Blue Ocean Strategy (almost)
Basically, you need to be the champion of your domain. You could either
  1. Be a winner by differentiation and making the competition irrelevant, or create a whole new segment or sub segment. For example, if you can’t be the best in Accounting, be the best in Accounting for Medical Sector.
  2. You could target a real niche.
  3. Or you could do the old fashion way through hard work with lots of brains and cash.
No matter what, you need to be number 1 in something.

No matter what business where are in, we need to be number 1 in any particular segment, new segment, cross segment or sub segment. Just be number 1, be it King of Travel or King of Travel in Bhutan (of course revenue will be much smaller, but people will know you if they intend to travel Bhutan).

What do I see?
I guess this is a very simple, yet important and enlightening fact. For example, JobStreet is the king on online job. JobsDB might be second, and probably is 50% less richer than JobStreet. The rest (more than a dozen of them) is pretty much dead or not really profitable, such as Best Jobs, Job City, Job Link, etc. JobStreet can demand RM 300 per job posting, while no one event bothered to advertise at the 4th job portal onwards in Malaysia even it’s for free.

We need to improvise and apply some sort of blue ocean strategy or something like that. Some job recruitment agencies are still very profitable by becoming the personalized head hunter for big corporation; of course some specialized in bringing in foreign labor. Perhaps there is still space for the part-time job segment, or classified odd jobs such as house cleaner, painter, data entry clerk, promoter, etc. Or there can be a specialized job portal for IT Jobs or Education. At least your business shall be well known in a particular segment. If you need a part-time job, go to; if you need an IT job, go to

Personally I don’t feel that it is a worthy business venture (especially for the Internet) if you don’t have a strategy to be the number 1 or 2, unless you plan to open up a convenient shop or clinic. Practically you don’t get anything for being the 5th best in Malaysia, and even the no 1 might not be very profitable depending on how lucrative the market is. If you can be the best in the US, Europe or Asia or The World, that is really fantastic.

A lot of business idea might sound cool, easy, fun, useful and etc. Before venturing full-fledged in to it
  1. Check out the competitors. What is their weakness? Could you beat them by being better in terms of features, usability, relevance or content? If you don’t know your enemy, you can’t win the war.
  2. What is your strategy to be number 1? Do you have a plan which you have at least some confident in executing it with your current resources? If you don’t, don’t start until you could think of something; or try something else.
  3. Just be ready for a lot of hard work, determination and perseverance. And also cash reserve to fuel the next 6 months to 1 year, or you could choose a less risky road of part-timing.
I had seen people building a better property website in terms of feature and functionality than iProperty, but there is only 2 property listed on the website. This is a real downfall of a typical programmer. Anyone can build a better website, but very few can build something useful that people would actually want to use. Please think beyond feature and technicality; think of content creation and strategy to get people to use your website.

Sometimes even I forgotten about this and jump into the bandwagon of creating something fun. It's important to know that I will eventually be number 1 to give me the right motivation and strategy to be satisfied in the end.

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