Entrepreneurial Sustainability: Building New Markets

Ervin “Magic” Johnson was perhaps one of the greatest NBA players from my generation.  Watching the Lakers battle the Celtics became an American obsession.  Johnson, who was the floor general for the L.A. Lakers (aka “Showtime”), always performed well in big games.  His list of athletic accomplishments could fill a phone book. 

Yet, it’s Johnson’s off-the-court behavior that is a benchmark for individuals who search for sustainability in business.  Being a visionary and a doer, Johnson found opportunities in underserved areas where most traditional businesses would not pursue. 

Johnson explains, “I am grateful for my experience as an athlete. Yet the rewards of my entrepreneurial endeavors have been even more fulfilling. I’ve learned that creating jobs and providing goods and services to urban communities beats even five NBA championships.” In fact, he has used his economic power to leverage economic development in urban depressed areas. Therefore, he has become a social change agent.

In his book, 32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business, Johnson explains how he developed his entrepreneurial mindset. The book provides practical advice on starting, financing, marketing, growing a business, and capitalizing on market opportunities.  Clearly, Johnson went against the grain and showed that lucrative markets are not all abroad. Like Johnson, today’s businesses will need to explore more market opportunities. Entrepreneurs inject creativity and innovation for greater profitability. In fact, they seize market problems and turn them into opportunities.

Robert Hisrich, Michael Peters, and Dean Shepherd, authors of Entrepreneurship, argue that while business owners take risks on new markets, entrepreneurs understand how to exploit these risks to their advantage.  They note, “Though many individuals have creative new ideas, few can bring their ideas to the market and create new venture. Yet entrepreneurship and the actual entrepreneurial decisions have resulted in several million new businesses being started throughout the world.”

Social media platforms such as Youtube.com may be the next frontier for entrepreneurs.  For example, Facebook now seeks to capture more of the small business market.  With 750 million users, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg notes that 9 million of the nation’s 30 million small businesses are using Facebook to communicate with their customers.  Sandberg explains, “I think every small business should…be using Facebook. We’re not going to stop until all of them are using it to grow their businesses.”

Currently, small businesses use free Facebook pages to communicate with their customers. However, Sandberg argues that Facebook services can offer more to small businesses: “Facebook takes word-of-mouth marketing and makes it work at scale.” 

Facebook will launch a plan to attract more small business advertisement by offering a free $50 advertising credit to approximately 200,000 small businesses.  Like Magic Johnson and Facebook, today’s managers need to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit and search for new market opportunities.

Describe a potential entrepreneurial opportunity for you over the next five years.  How will you be able to sustain any success given market forces (i.e. Porter’s Five Competitor Forces)? 

 © 2011 by Daryl D. Green                                    


[1] “Facebook wants to be big among small businesses” by Jefferson Graham

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34 thoughts on “Entrepreneurial Sustainability: Building New Markets

  1. Before I get to my response, just let me tell you that Google+ is also going to begin targeting small businesses with different programs in the very near future.

    One general business I have been throwing around for some time now is the idea of public, on demand high performance computing clusters based on virtualization technology. The general idea is similar to the Amazon Web Services but directly related to solving complex problems that have historically need access to one of the governmental or academic high performance computational environments. In analyzing this project there are many forces acting on it that need to be taken into account to determine it’s ability to sustain success. In the world of IT there are always new competitors entering the market. Some with a superior product and some with a inferior product. Within this there is also to potential for many substitute products. The one strength, however, with the low number of high quality substitutes and few competitors is that fact that buyer concentration is high compared to firms making the bargaining power of customers low. Five years in IT is a very difficult time line to project. However, with the movement towards the “cloud” and distributed computing I’m excited to see what the future holds.

    Gamble, J. E., & Thompson, A. A. (2011). Essentials of strategic management: The quest for competitive advantage. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

    • Hi Mike,

      I congratulate you on giving this some thought: “idea of public, on demand high performance computing clusters based on virtualization technology.” It appears that you’ve given this some thought.

      Is there a way to test this service on a small scale with potential users in a cost effective manner?

      To me, testing is critical for small businesses. I use this methodology for product development in publishing. You start small and expand. Is there a nonprofit organization or small business that could use this service so that you can test the concept?

      Professor Green

  2. I don’t really have any entrepreneurial ideas. It’s not really something I would pursue, but if I had to come up with an idea, I would probably pursue something in the technology field, most likely, something web-based. With the constant development of technology, web-based technology seems like it would develop quicker and offer more opportunities for success. It seems like, even a rather small idea, can turn out amazing results. While I probably won’t pursue any ideas, it would still be interesting to see if any of them would work out.

    • Hi Zach,

      Cool! I respect that this topic is not a big interest. Yet, let’s see if there is any benefit in this dreamcasting of mine.

      Can you think about a current idea that some web master has developed and looked to see if it’s sustainable?

      For example, I’m in love with Animoto.com! I think it has great potential. Yet, how long can this newness last as a business model?

      Let’s go deeper into this discussion.

      Professor Green

  3. In case my husband and I have to go back to Brazil we have an idea of opening a company focused on bringing students or student-athletes from Brazil, who wish to come and study in U.S. universities. It is a market with plenty of competition and in other similar services, but it is an area that is growing well in my country, especially in my region. The demand for these services has grown around 51% according to some statistics of last year. Our company would handle all the communication and paperwork between the student and faculty, such as verify the courses offered by the universities and the type of student-athletes they are looking for. Then, we would find among our clients which one is more suitable for the position. We believe that our experience as an international student in U.S. and had been through the whole process, would give us more credibility to talk and negotiate with parents and students.

    • Hello Maria,

      Excellent concept! You are a dreamer too. The United States will need more of these people if the nation wants to compete in the future.

      OK! I like the concept. But—-I listened to you and others discussed Brazil as a growing economic influence in the forums.

      Why would students from Brazil want to come to America? In fact, some foreign students are starting to return to their native country rather than live in the U.S.?

      Can you help us understand how your business model will play out given this market trend?

      Professor Green

      • Hi Professor Green,

        U.S. is still considering a very powerful and great nation. In Brazil, we have private schools focused on teaching English and it is very important to learn English in order to have a good job. Brazilians have always had U.S. as a first choice and an international experience is also considered a plus. I personally had struggled with this and lost some professional opportunities because my English wasn’t considered well enough. I believe if one day I have to go back to Brazil I will have better chances.

        Maria.

      • Hi Maria,

        Let me say I admire you…and others who are multi-gifted in languages. I do get it! We are moving quickly toward another global trend (organizations searching for the best talent across the world). I want my MBA students to also ‘get this!’

        Having a global perspective is vital. I really hope you can teach ‘us Americans’ more about Brazil and its culture so that we can compete for the future.

        Will you help us?

        Professor Green

  4. I do not have a great entrepreneurial idea, but if I were to consider one it would be founding a medical practice. My aspiration would be to gather a team of primary care physicians who would truly be committed to serve minority under-served communities and establish a non-for-profit medical practice. However, funding would perhaps be the greatest challenge to face since the majority of our clients (patients) would not have the means to pay for their medical costs. Still, I have had the opportunity to rotate through a non-for-profit medical clinic that was founded by a visionary physician that had the same noble idea and for the past thirty years he has managed to receive sufficient funding for his practice and treat thousands of patients in desperate need. In my case, I would need to work very hard to gather the right team of colleges and employees and to find adequate support from the community, government and other professionals.

    • Hi Miguel,

      I would politely disagree with you!!!

      What you have pointed out is an opportunity! You have shown the heart of an entrepreneur. Like Magic Johnson, you are targeting another underserved population.

      About future for your service? Couldn’t you push this investment on businesses as part of their social responsiblity initiative?

      For example, dialysis is a multi-million dollar business. In most cases, dialysis centers serve individuals who can’t afford to do this treatment at home. Companies like Fresenius have built economic empires.

      Why couldn’t you position your clinics as a value proposition to these huge medical empires?

      Professor Green

      • Thank you Dr. Green for your kind remarks. Yes, you are absolutely right. A significant portion of funding for non-for-profit medical clinics comes from donations from multi-service businesses who then get tax credits and other benefits for their contributions. Interestingly, an also respectable part of their funding and services come directly from generous donors who donate their money, time or skills. At the clinic I previously mentioned, several specialists (orthopedics surgeons, OB/GYN, endocrinologists…) donate entire days of their service to the clinic or would see patients at their private offices for free. The reality is that it only takes a group of dedicated individuals who are truly committed to serve to make it happen. Only time and God will tell if that will be my call.

    • If only more physicians would think like you do Miguel, the world would be a much better place. When you first came to our group, I remember thinking what a dedicated individual you are by becoming a doctor and getting your MBA. I thought you must be preparing yourself to have your own practice someday, and because you are bilingual you will be able to serve so many more people. Then I started thinking how expensive it is to set up a practice and I thought about how I would start out, believe it or not! What about making house calls and developing a reputation, first, before setting up an office? The technology is in place, and the market for women wanting to work from home while they raise their families is one that you could tap into for your administrative pool. This would reduce your overhead, pay higher wages and better benefits to your employees, and then spend liberally on marketing. You would see fewer patients making house calls, but you would not be limited to where you served them.

      • Thank you Heidi, it is very nice of you to say that. I believe that we all have special gifts that we are meant to share with the rest of the world and I certainly hope not to keep mine to myself. The truth is that this is one of the main reasons why I went to medical school, to serve those in need. And I hope this MBA will prepared me even more to be of service. You have said it right, it is very expensive to set up your own medical practice, specially fresh out of residency with an expensive malpractice insurance and thousands of dollars in debt from school expenses. This is the main reason why most physicians practice at hospitals or join an established practice right out of residency. Yes, employing people right out of their homes is a great idea and one many other businesses are already employing (translation services, call-answering services…). Technology is transforming the world around us and medicine will certainly morph along with it.

  5. My latest entrepreneurial idea was to engage patients at home and before they get to the hospital. It would be a joint venture with Facebook to allow people to have an online medical record that interacts with local hospitals via location, your primary care physician, and insurance company. It allows patients to enter their chief complaints and enables them to choose the hospital and treatment modality based on insurance coverage and alternative modalities. The core concept is that it now returns control back to the patient to determine, who, where, and when they will receive coverage and drives competition between insurance providers and hospitals. Additionally, this service would be available to the patient for free therefore driving lowering cost of care while increasing consumer value and increasing compliance by having daily interaction and seamless integration with the patient via online networking platform such as Facebook.

    For all intents and purposes this is copyrighted by Phil Singer. 😉

    • Hi Phil,

      Outstanding! As your past professor, I do this concept has been brewing for a long time.

      In fact, you made me so smart in the area of conceige medicine.

      Yes, I would probably pay extra to send my doctor an email or talk with him on Facebook.

      In fact, I think there is both a blue collar and white collar market for it.

      OK! I am investing in your success. Will I get a discount (say at least 20%) on your multi-million dollar business, Phil?

      Professor Green

  6. I would like to build sustainable student apartments off campus, and I also would like to build a Starbucks in close proximity to LMU’s campus in Harrogate. I feel both projects would be very lucrative in the long term. LMU’s campus and student populations are growing each semester. There is not a lot of cheaper alternative housing around the campus. My goal would be to offer reasonable prices for quality apartments tailored to those who are 21 and older. While it is a risky business to go into, I feel the return on investment would almost be too good to pass up.

    While the housing project is risky, it may be a little less risky than opening a coffee shop like Starbucks. Yes, there is competition for Starbucks in the area such as Shades of Brown and McDonald’s, but none of the competitors carry the type of name recognition as Starbucks. I believe if one were to make a Starbucks close to campus, then it would be able to reach both the community as well as the college campus community. John Gamble and Arthur Thompson state, “The nature and subtleties of competitive forces must be understood” (p. 42).

    Gamble, J. E., & Thompson, A. A. (2011). Essentials of strategic management: The quest for competitive advantage. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

    • Correction on typo:

      John Gamble and Arthur Thompson state, “The nature and subtleties of competitive forces… must be understood” (p. 42).

      • Chris,
        I considered a real estate venture in Harrogate and looked into the feasibility of it. The major limitation is that Harrogate does not have a city sewage line, and all of the city sewage is pumped to Tazewell. There is one major sewer line that is owned by the city and Roger Ball bought all of the property that surrounds it. I asked a local developer for the costs associated with the connection fees to connect to the sewer line and he said that it cost him $70,000 to connect 10 units. In the realm of real estate in Harrogate, that is a huge opportunity cost. Dubin ran for mayor of Harrogate and his major platform promise was to construct a water treatment plant but he lost in the ballots… an attempt to breakdown some of the collusion in the town. Needless to say, many people didn’t understand why a sewage plant was so important, but the lack of one is a huge hamper to economic growth.

    • Hi Chris,

      Man, you are on to something! How much investment $$$$ do you think to pull this off?

      In fact, the Knoxville campus does not have a cafe or canten there. Yes, there are tons of fast food next bye. But—

      Yet, my bright MBA students tested a business model, selling baked goods to LMU students in 2010. I challenged them with another assignment that required demonstrating results, not theories. They made real $$$ and proved that there was a market!!!!

      Therefore, I encourage you to test your concepts.

      Professor Green

  7. Even though I don’t have any entrepreneurial ideas of my own, my husband and I have talked about wanting to open a sports bar type place around Middlesboro that serves wings and has a bar type (minus the alcohol) atmosphere. I am not sure if many of you are familiar with Middlesboro, KY, but it is a very small and rural area. The best chain restaurants (fast food or sit-down) available are really sparse – and there are none that would cater to this type of consumers. I do know it would be extremely popular because there are an extremely large amount of sports fans in the area. With the area being so rural, there is usually a problem getting games on local television stations (and hardly no-one has satellite options). This would give the community somewhere to watch the games, as well as have foods that everyone loves during them.
    I guess the thing to look at would be the sustainability of the project itself. I don’t think it would be as smart to try and start up a ‘built-from-scratch sports bar’ (given the economy standings), but I do think that something like a Buffalo Wild Wings would have good success here.

    • Hi Lindsey,

      Great idea! I feel that rural areas are a great opportunity. What about hiking up a U-Haul truck loaded it with wifi, a big screen, filled with hot wings, and music & go on location? Be mobile! Keep your cost low and pilot it!

      I’ve seen wild ideas work. What about mobile detail van, selling b-que? Yep, I’ve seen that!!!

      How do we leverage opportunities in rural America?

      Professor Green

  8. I have had this idea for a while to open a Stroke and Limb Center, staffed with a neurologist, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician, and Physical Therapists. The goal would be to handle all avenues of care subsequent to cerebral injury including initial assessment, rehabilitation/physical therapy, and primary care follow-up and checkups. The teachings of Dr. Edward Taub have spawned a new way of viewing stroke rehabilitation and by using his methods, there have been major advancements in regain of function after cerebral ischemic and hemorrhagic injuries. I would interweave his teachings into my practice, providing a peer-reviewed, scientific approach to rehabilitation in my center.

    The other part of the practice would be the creation and fitting of prostheses. With an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering, I have always been fascinated by how much a mechanical intervention via prosthesis can affect quality of life. We would personally manufacture these limbs for our patients, while also providing rehabilitation to make the transition in using these devices more smooth.

    http://www.uab.edu/psychology/primary-faculty/11-primary-faculty/27-dr-edward-taub

    • Hi Champ,

      Outstanding!!!

      How do you start it on a small scale?

      In fact, I think your engineering background make you unique in the medical field.

      Use it to your advantage!!!

      Professor Green

  9. The creation of new markets is a very important thing, especially for small businesses. In my own experiences, if small businesses are looking to grow, they have very few options to operate in the traditional large markets simply because they are so cramped and so saturated. Small businesses are being forced to move to areas that are not as big as the ideal supersized market. Because these are not as big as maybe they would like them to be, small business owners are being forced to be creative in their marketing schemes and in the ways that they reach their customers. Facebook is a great way to do this. As we all know, nearly everyone has a Facebook page so why not market through Facebook. It may or may not be as effective as other tradition marketing schemes such as radio and television; however, it is free and requires very little time so it arguably a no brainer.

    • Paul,
      I agree that Face Book can be a great marketing tool for small businesses, just look at how many large corporations are now paying Face Book to advertise. Just recently rumors were all over social media and public news outlets about that Face Book was going to charge membership fees. I don’t feel that Face Book will have to change for memberships fees do to the amount of personal data (marketing data) that it contains. It can sell presorted marketing data to corporations for a lot more than individual are willing to pay for social media. Face Book, however; once it has reached the peak of its product life cycle might start changing a membership fees to those who do not want their data collected.

  10. PALO ALTO, Ca., June 27 2011 – “World Centric, a leading supplier of foodservice and retail compostable products, has been named among the top social entrepreneurs of 2011” by Bloomberg Business Week. World Centric has taken agricultural waste and made products that we use every day, better. This is cool. Now we are less dependent on Styrofoam products that hurt the environment.

    I have been trying to find a way to make the lives of children that are in the foster care system, better. Although I have not found a solution to this problem, yet, I think about it all of the time. There has to be a better way for children that have been separated from their parents by no fault of their own to have better living conditions than what currently exist. I have given considerable thought to what a different model would look like, but the ultimate element that can change a child’s life that is in this situation is someone that really cares. It is hard to create any model that will guarantee this.

    Bloomberg Business Week Press Release | World Centric Named One of America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs 2011, http://www.worldcentric.org/about-us/in-the-news/world-centric-named-one-of-most-promising-social-entrepreneurs-2011

  11. I live in a tourist community in which I have seen several entrepreneurships succeed and others fail. During the late 90’s I got the desire to open my own computer sales and service business while attempting to work a full time job. I soon learned that in order to be profitable you must be willing to dedicate you full time to the business venture. I often found myself providing troubleshooting (free of charge) over the cell phone while performing the duties of my full time job.

    Today I still have that same desire to be my own boss. The problem that I face is finding the right niche that will provide the greatest opportunity for success. As I mentioned I live in a tourist community that is geared to the family with theme parks, dinner shows, and shopping outlets. To be successful and sustainable in this environment a business must differentiate is self from crowd. I have noticed over the years that these business being family based are overlooking a very important demographic and that is those who are single age 21 to 35. This is evident by the lack of social and dance clubs that you usually find in other popular vacation areas.

    With this possible niche in mind I did a few sketches for a restaurant and dance club that was base on the famous B 17 Bomber during my under graduate studies. Naturally this would be a very costly venture due to the amount of engineering and design elements that would have to be over come in order to build a building that resembled an oversized flying B17. But back then I saw the potential and had a vision for franchises across the nation.

    Today I try to remain a little more conservative with my Ideals. Ultimately I still desire to either establish or create a business that I will be able to pass on to my daughters and grand children some day.

  12. I entered medical school with the intention on being an OBGYN in a health clinic. I want to work with the inner city population, mainly teenagers. I believe many of the girls need a good role model. They need someone who will support them through their pregnancy and in their future. Just because they are having a child at a young age does not mean they need to quit school. Having an education will make a difference in their, and their child’s life. I want to set up a program that allows them to continue in school. I believe I will be able to do this, especially with the right staff and support. I won’t be opening my own practice. With this population, I will need to join an established clinic that accepts Medicaid. I do want to start my own program within that clinic. I will have a competitive force by starting this program. Other clinics in the area will not offer this program. The number of patients coming to the clinic will increase, which will bring in more money to the clinic.

    (1999-2010). Porter’s Five Forces: A model for industry analysis. QuickMBA.com. Retrieved October 1, 2011 from http://www.quickmba.com/strategy/porter.shtml

  13. I haven’t given entrepreneurship a great deal of thought, although I do recognize a need that I could fill. I always thought that I would like to be an advocate to senior citizens and help them understand the more complicated things like insurance, Medicare, and anything else that is hard for even people such as myself to understand. I never have understood how these entitys expect elderly citizens to be able to comprehend the complexity of these programs that are there to benefit them. Decisions that are made concerning things like insurance and Medicare programs can end up being extremely costly for someone who does not completely understand what they are reading. I would like to be a trustworthy resource for those who need help to be able to turn to. Of course, it would take years of study on my part to be able to fulfill my duties as an advocate, and I sure cannot do that while I am working on my MBA…but someday, maybe, I would be able to pursue this and help a great number of people.

  14. I have always considered myself an avid outdoorsman. Throughout college I worked for the City of Sevierville Parks and Recreation department as a lifeguard, camp counselor and other various positions. It is there where my love for the outdoors truly expanded. I began to explore all sorts of outdoor activities, backpacking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. In college, I, of course, wanted to follow this passion into my career choice. However, after researching the job potential one would have with an outdoor recreation degree I ultimately did the most reasonable, prudent thing a college student could do. I majored in business administration at the University of Tennessee. Through my undergrad, graduate and professional experiences I have grown to enjoy the ever dynamic world of business. I still hold true to my outdoor roots, and would like to someday combine my two passions to create an environment of team building for business executives through various scenarios based in the outdoors. While my entrepreneurial spirit wants to throw aside the business analysis such as, Porters Five Forces the business side tends to examine and explore such tools to increase my likelihood of success.

  15. KEEP 196 WORDS INITIAL 12/6/11(original post 10/1/11)PALO ALTO, Ca., June 27 2011 – “World Centric, a leading supplier of foodservice and retail compostable products, has been named among the top social entrepreneurs of 2011″ by Bloomberg Business Week. World Centric has taken agricultural waste and made products that we use every day, better. This is cool. Now we are less dependent on Styrofoam products that hurt the environment.
    I have been trying to find a way to make the lives of children that are in the foster care system, better. Although I have not found a solution to this problem, yet, I think about it all of the time. There has to be a better way for children that have been separated from their parents by no fault of their own to have better living conditions than what currently exist. I have given considerable thought to what a different model would look like, but the ultimate element that can change a child’s life that is in this situation is someone that really cares. It is hard to create any model that will guarantee this.
    Bloomberg Business Week Press Release | World Centric Named One of America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs 2011, http://www.worldcentric.org/about-us/in-the-news/world-centric-named-one-of-most-promising-social-entrepreneurs-2011

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