I’m not talking about posting the HBO schedule on your website or sending a Xeroxed copy around to all your customers. When HBO came onto the scene they were innovative, fresh, and willing to do things other people were not.
Before HBO (“Home Box Office”) came out in 1985, about the only to way to see a movie was to go to the theater, pray that one of the major networks would be showing one you wanted to see, or watch one you already had. With cable television technology blooming, and American access to the cable networks growing, this new, edgy cable movie company became an instant success.
What about the HBO schedule made them different? They realized that people were willing to pay for television if it carried what they were interested in, and HBO gave them exactly what they wanted. The fact that no one at that time was offering commercial-free movies on cable did not deter them from doing it and doing it well. Because of their proven track record as successful innovators, we can look to HBO for successful business principles that can help our own home business grow and succeed. If you are considering starting a home business but have not done so yet, carefully consider the principles in this article before you make your next move.
To succeed in business you have to do at least one of three things:
1) Offer consumers something that no one else has to offer
2) Offer consumers something at a higher quality than others
3) Offer consumers something at a lower price than others
A Unique Product
We have already discussed the fact that HBO wrote the book on paid subscription movie channels. What does your home business offer? Is it different from what other people are selling? If not, keep reading the article. If you do have something unique to offer, how well are you currently accentuating the differences your product has from other similar products? If your baseball hat design is revolutionary, tell me why – or I might just assume it’s a baseball hat like all the rest.
Many businesses are formed after an expert on a given product or from a service industry takes what she knows and builds on that. They improve the quality of what is already being offered and build a successful business around that. The HBO schedule has constantly added new movies, original programming, and sports events in order to maintain their stance as the highest quality subscription cable channel available. If your business is built around an improvement on another product, don’t get comfortable! Invest some time and money into constantly improving your product or process to make sure your competitors don’t catch up with you.
Finally, selling a product for less than the price at which your competitor is offering it does not have to mean you have to cut into your profit margin. The key to succeeding in price wars is to minimize your costs, thereby maximizing your profits. Online banks are able to offer substantially higher interest rates on saving accounts and CDs because they do not have to employ as large a staff as does a traditional bank. They cut overhead costs and pass the savings on to us, the consumers. Look closely at the way you buy and move the products you sell. Is there somewhere you could save? Is there something you could downsize or shift in order to streamline your business and lower your overhead costs? Sometimes a website with a thoroughly written FAQ page can save you from having to answer hours of customers’ questions over the phone.
Are all your eggs in one basket?
A successful business usually tries to build their business model around a blend of two or all of these options. You may have a superior product and do OK selling it at a much higher price than your competitors, but you will truly excel if you are able to cut costs and expand your profit margin. Do the research and figure out what the best price/quality levels are for your business. The HBO schedule has evolved over the years as the tastes and desires of their consumers have changed. Constantly evaluate who your target audience is and adjust your business plan to compensate for any changes.