Sunday, June 28, 2009

How to answer questions about a disruptive business model - NOT EASY

When starting a disruptive business, there is usually not an identifiable precursor company which makes it easy for interested people to understand what the new business is doing. Consequently, early interactions with interested people are defined by questions that assume a lot (incorrectly) and that make it difficult to redirect questions.

For example, each of these following questions is an example of one directed to the founders of the business before it was well-known, and each, quite innocently, is looking for an answer that doesn't exist, because the question is predicated on old business models that the new company has not espoused:

"Oh a new furniture store, I love that. What brands will you be selling?"

On Cold Stone Creamery:
"I love ice cream, how did you decide which ice cream flavors to order before opening?"

On Build-a-Bear:
"My daughter adors Teddy Bears, do you have a Michael Jackson one in stock?"

On Zara:
"Great blouse, can you check your other stores to see if you have it in my size?"

On Linux:
"How can you possibly employ enough good coders to beat Microsoft?"

On Digg:
"Cool, a news popularity contest. Should I read the Times first to see which articles are the most popular, before I Digg one?"

On American Idol:
"Live music is cool, Simon, but what makes you think that you can pick someone who the audience will want to watch?"

On Local Motors:
"Cool! a new car company...what kind of engines will you make?"
"Cool! a new car company...what car model (singular) do you make?"
"Cool! a new car could you possibly raise enough money?"
"Cool! a new car company...but isn't this the worst time ever to be in that business?"

I think you get my point. At Local Motors, we encounter these same questions every day, and we do our best to answer by focusing on the business at hand. It is a challenge, however, because we are so different from the status quo and want to make a statement in the market that makes that clear enough so that the world understands.

Drive the Design!

Go Local!


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