Editor’s note: Lea A. Strickland is President/CEO of FOCUS Resources, a strategic business consulting firm, based in Cary.

CARY, N.C. – As the pace of technology innovation increases and as more and more players are able to enter the markets and provide alternatives (to each other and existing solutions), differentiation and adoption is fostered by the ability to put sound business practices, processes, and capability behind the technology.

It isn’t enough to have the newest and greatest technology. The “build it and they will come” approach doesn’t take into consideration that a significant part of your potential market may need to be convinced to take a chance on a new technology and a young business. Individuals and businesses are risk adverse or at best risk reluctant. If what they are currently doing or the technology they are currently using is “good enough for now”, then persuading them that they need to “risk” a new technology and/or a new business may be a greater obstacle and take more time than you anticipated.

The Obvious Isn’t Always Obvious

All the reasons someone should be willing to do business with you and adopt a new strategy or technology are usually obvious only to the internal team and knowledgeable outsiders. Often that core belief in your “product” is based more on enthusiasm for the technology and less on the certainty that you know how to deliver the “goods” to the customer.

The founder of a business or the creator of a technology has the passion for the product. If that passion isn’t accompanied by sound business then the degree of risk – real and perceived – to be an early adopter is greater. Creating the technology is only part of the equation. The technology has to be commercially viable – replicable, reproducible in quantities sufficient to meet demand, and at a price that the market will pay while generating a profit.

Any technology — even the best technology — which can’t be sold at price that includes profit isn’t going to sustain a business. The same technology packaged with services or another product or solution may command a highly profitable price.

Proof of Concept and the First Customer

Businesses and technology go through the proof of concept – demonstrating that they work and that there is a market. They can go through the proof of concept phase individually, concurrently, or consecutively. Both the technology and the business can “work” individually and still not be able to succeed together. An individual technology may not be sufficient to sustain a standalone company. Instead, it may be either a platform for the development of many products within a larger business or it may simply not have a market large enough to justify commercialization.

It isn’t the always the best software product or other technology which captures the largest share of the market. It is most often the technology which has the best infrastructure, marketing, and business savvy that sidelines the competition. There are numerous examples of products that are “the” brands to buy which, if taken on merit alone, aren’t the logical winners in the business wars. They shall remain nameless in this article, but I bet you can name them yourself:

  • Operating system software?
  • Herbal energy drink?
  • Hybrid car?
  • PDA?
  • Cell phone?
  • When you look at market successes, the “superior” product doesn’t always survive or win the biggest market share. The customer decides. Customers aren’t always logical.

    Every business needs more than its product to thrive. It needs to do “business” well in order to compete and win. Some successes come whether the product or technology is the “best” or whether or not the customer service is “excellent”, but those successes aren’t predicable nor are the replicable. To succeed you need some of the “IT” quality and a large quantity of business know-how and hard work. It ain’t always pretty, but sweat equity and sound business build bottom-line success.

    Lea A. Strickland, MBA CMA CFM CBM, is President/CEO of FOCUS Resources, a strategic business consulting firm, based in Cary. Strickland is nationally recognized as a consultant, speaker, columnist, and author on the strategic, operational, and financial issues of businesses of all sizes. Her experience in financial and operational leadership spans from Fortune 500 and Global 100 companies to early and growth stage technology companies. She is the author of “Out of the Cubicle and Into Business”, a guide for first-time entrepreneurs working on defining the business. She has over 200 published articles and has numerous appearances in national publications and media including Entrepreneur Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine Radio. She can be reached at 919.234.3960 or lea@focusresourcesinc.com. Her website is www.focusresources.com

    FOCUS Resources, specializes in early and growth stage companies (primarily in technology, bio-technology, and other emerging industries) advising on the start-up, strategic, financial, funding, and other areas related to commercialization and profitability. FOCUS Resources is also recognized as a leading advisor on the business issues and requirements associated with governmental funding (SBIR, STTR, and other sources).