Technology Entrepreneurs: Think in Terms of Platforms, Not Products

When dealing with young entrepreneurs, I’ve always tried to instruct them on business principles that helped me become successful. In my latest contribution to Forbes, I outline the benefits of thinking in terms of platforms instead of products. With entrepreneurship, there is always a desire to succeed. I hope that by writing this article, I pass on to technology entrepreneurs the lessons I’ve learned by adopting this line of thinking.

In the article, “Entrepreneurs: Thinking in Terms of Platforms Rather Than Products”, I start by explaining that a successful technology platform should be scalable and adaptable.

Scalability removes limits to the number of customers served by creating ways to serve their customers. Adaptability ensures growth of audience segmentation by offering different, unique options for different, unique customers.

I also include the three-step process by which entrepreneurs can assess whether their existing products would serve better as platforms. In my experience, platforms have a greater opportunity for serving more customers, exponentially increasing odds of success. Don’t make all your efforts fruitless by painting yourself into a corner.

The three steps are:

  1. Start with the problem: Define the problem your product solves.
  2. Find the solution: What fixes this problem? If you have a product, your product is the solution.
  3. See how that solution fits more than one problem.

The last step is the big jump. A product solves one problem—a platform solves several problems.

In order to figure out what other problems your solutions can solve, you need to “get out of jail.” By that, I mean getting out of your office and your circle of colleagues to reach beyond what you know. This is really the most important thing you can do as an entrepreneur to innovate and grow.

To “get out of jail,” I urge technology entrepreneurs: research your target audiences to define the maximum potential of your platforms.

However, it’s important to understand that if your products’ limits are exceeded, it may do more harm than good. Be sure you don’t stretch beyond what is achievable. You have to recognize that not every potential customer will be satisfied with your platform, no matter how scalable or adaptable.

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