There’s an entrepreneurial tendency to try and be all things to all people. The thinking goes that if some pain or need in the market has been identified, why not service it since we’re trying to build a company. Generally, I like to think about two common strategies and often pick the one that’s simpler:
- Boil the Ocean – The idea is to tackle the largest, most general problem in a market and build a solution that will be most ubiquitous (think Dropbox for file sychronizing or where Mailchimp is heading with email marketing).
- Set Sail and Wait for the Tide to Rise – Pick a more narrowly defined segment of the market, typically the small-to-medium sized business area since they can adopt a solution faster, and then as the market grows, slowly move up market (think Salesforce.com for customer relationship management).
Almost always, entrepreneurs go after the boil the ocean strategy and subsequently fail. Implementing the strategy of setting sail on a specific course and then waiting for the tide to rise before expanding is a more successful approach.
What else? What are your thoughts on the boil the ocean strategy as well as the wait for the tide to rise strategy?