Cambridge Strategy Group

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Marketing Strategy Business Plan

Market Analysis Summary

The Cambridge Strategy Group intends to enter the market for providing marketing and management consulting services to new and emerging small businesses. The sections below discuss our analysis of the environment, the target market, our competitors, and the company.

The environment is well suited for the Cambridge Strategy Group. While the market for startups and skyrocketing IPOs appears to be cooling off, this slowdown provides an opportunity for CSG to establish a presence in the small business arena before the next growth period.

4.1 Market Segmentation

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS
The following factors define the environment in which CSG hopes to succeed.

  1. Physical: New businesses are being formed across the United States every day. Providing consulting services to these businesses will require local presence. North Carolina's Triangle Area has recently been rated as one of the top three metropolitan areas for small businesses by Dun and Bradstreet's Entrepreneur magazine.

  2. Legal: The creation of the Limited Liability Company has made it very simple for new businesses to organize as formal business entities. Limited Liability Companies are ideal for small businesses as they avoid the double taxation characteristic of C Corporations, while providing limited liability for the company members.

  3. Economic: Current economic conditions are continuing to challenge investors' views regarding the potential for return. The market is no longer rewarding entrepreneurs solely on the strength of their ideas. Instead, business owners and Venture Capitalists are expected to show profitability before they will be allowed to reap the rewards of their hard work. While small business owners bring innovative ideas and possibly leadership qualities to their organization, they will need to rely upon skills from other disciplines, including marketing, to succeed.

  4. Social: According to a Small Business Administration report, U.S. small business is at an all-time high (The Facts About Small Business, 1999) "interest in owning or starting a small business has broken new records [between 1993 and 1998]." While recent stock market corrections may have frightened a segment of potential entrepreneurs, the opportunity for financial reward keeps many small business owners diligently chasing their dreams.

  5. Technological: Recent advances in technology have greatly enhanced the ability for distributed teams to work together on common projects. The proliferation of the Internet facilitates data sharing and communication. Voice-over-IP technology reduces the cost of conversation between CSG members working across the country.

With these conditions in mind, CSG will concentrate on initially building clients in the North Carolina area before expanding into other areas. We will be concentrating on all businesses that employ less than 100 individuals. CSG will not segment its market to any greater degree since the company wants to build clients as quickly as possible. Therefore our market analysis chart below reflects this initial strategy.

Market Analysis
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Potential Customers Growth CAGR
Small businesses in North Carolina 5% 150,000 156,750 163,804 171,175 178,878 4.50%
Other 0% 0 0 0 0 0 0.00%
Total 4.50% 150,000 156,750 163,804 171,175 178,878 4.50%

4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy

The target market is defined by the customer needs that create the market, the structural forces that govern operation within the market, and the attractiveness of the market based on strategic value, market size, market growth, and potential for profit. Each of these areas is described below.

STRUCTURAL FACTORS
Particular market forces affect the ability of the Cambridge Strategy Group to succeed. These forces are identified below:

  1. Buyer Power: With almost 900,000 new businesses starting each year, there is ample demand for consulting services. If any particular business chooses to work with another consulting firm, there are still a large number of firms that can be targeted by CSG. Buyers have power in this market, but the size of the market makes it unlikely that buyer power will have any significant negative impact on the consulting firm.

  2. Threat of Conventional Competitors: No other conventional competitor owns the idea of "small business consulting" in the minds of today's business owners. A number of high-profile management and marketing consulting firms exist, yet most of these firms have a reputation for being expensive and much too theoretical for small business owners who have practical, short-term concerns. Still, there is potential for these firms to open distinct teams of consultants focused on this market place. These teams would have particular strength in an area where the competitors already have an established consulting presence, such as the major U.S. cities. By beginning our efforts in the Triangle Area of North Carolina, Cambridge Strategy Group will exploit an area that has a very strong market of small businesses, yet does not have many high-profile competitor offices outside of tax specialists. No smaller competitor has emerged in this area.

  3. Supplier Power: Suppliers have minimal power over a consulting firm. The www.cambridgestrategy.net website URL as well as all of the Cambridge Strategy Group email addresses are owned by CSG. Our Web-hosting provider can be changed quickly in the event of any disruption of service. CSG intends to work with third party alliance partners to fulfill client projects. For example, CSG is in the process of entering into an agreement with a Web development firm. This supplier will provide website development for the www.cambridgestrategy.net website in exchange for first right of refusal for future client projects. Contractual stipulations have given the Group legal remedies to terminate the contract due to cost, quality, or time issues with the supplier. By crafting supplier contracts in a careful manner, we hope to limit our exposure to risk due to suppliers' power.

  4. Threat of Substitutes: Potential substitutes are a very real threat. Venture Capitalists could add more consulting services to their portfolio in order to have more points of contact with the new business. Additionally, non-profit groups such as the Council for Entrepreneurial Development offer basic business plan services, primarily focusing on pre-Angel businesses. Cambridge Strategy Group intends to form relationships with each of these potential substitutes. By working with Venture Capitalists, CSG is able to provide a set of core competencies in marketing and business strategy that complements the VCs funding and business model assessment competencies. Also, by becoming more involved with the Council for Entrepreneurial Development and other non-profit organizations, CSG will gain access to a number of firms who will be potential prospects for marketing consulting once they receive their initial funding.

  5. Threat of New Entrants: This threat is significant as there are very few barriers to entry in a consulting market. Consulting firms do not normally have significant intellectual property that can be patented, and the requirements for creating these firms are minimal. Fortunately, the size of the new business market should sustain a number of firms in this area. The Cambridge Strategy Group will focus on gaining ownership of the idea "small business consulting" in the mind of the market. By owning that idea, CSG will minimize its exposure to new consulting firms with similar targets. Owning this idea is an expensive task that will have to start locally and move from one city to another as the company expands.

4.2.1 Market Growth

According to recent research from the U.S. Small Business Administration office, a record number of new small businesses opened their doors in 1998. This record was broken again in 1999 as the overall small business market grew 1.5%. The growth of the market is not nearly as important to the Cambridge Strategy Group as its size. CSG will need to focus on how to capture the most out of the existing market, even if it declines in size, before thinking about expanding. Potentially, the low growth may dissuade some competitors from entering the market, providing the Cambridge Strategy Group with an opportunity to capture market- and mind-share before more competitors enter.

MARKET ATTRACTIVENESS
The Cambridge Strategy Group is entering the market for small business marketing and management consulting services. The growing number of small businesses in the United States, particularly in the Triangle Area of North Carolina, constitute an enormous potential client base that demands the skills provided by the Cambridge Strategy Group.

  1. Strategic Value: The small business consulting market is a strategic, and available, segment for the Cambridge Strategy Group. Many companies are able to get customers to associate a particular concept or idea with their firm. To date, there is no clear association for "small business consulting." Over time, the Cambridge Strategy Group will attempt to capture this association.

  2. Market Size: The size of the market is an important factor. While the large number of small businesses starting each year will make it difficult to gain significant share of the market in the near term, it does help to ensure that there will be initial customers available to the Cambridge Strategy Group.

  3. Potential for Profit: The potential for profit in this segment is very high. The operating costs required to address this segment are minimal, allowing a majority of service revenue to be turned directly into profit. While the barriers to competitive entry may be fairly low, no clear leader has gained the mind-share of the potential client market. Additionally, based on the overwhelming size of the market and the distributed nature of the potential clients, it is unlikely that any competitor will be able to dominate the market in the near future.

Market Attractiveness Summary

Factor

Weight

Score

Weighted Score

Strategic Value

.3

9.0

2.7

Market Size

.3

9.0

2.7

Market Growth

.1

5.0

0.5

Potential for Profit

.3

9.0

2.7

Total:

8.6

INDUSTRY BACKGROUND
The industry is ideal for the emergence of a firm such as the Cambridge Strategy Group. The following facts were listed in a November 1999 report published by the U.S. Small Business Administration:

  • In 1998; 898,000 new businesses opened in the United States - the most ever.

  • Interest in owning or starting a small business has broken new records over the last five years and part-time entrepreneurs have dramatically increased.

  • From 1994 to 1998, about 11.1 million net new jobs were added to the economy. According to Cognetics, Inc., virtually all were generated by small firms with fewer than 500 employees. Microbusinesses with 1-4 employees generated 60.2 percent of the net new jobs over this period; firms with 5-19 employees contributed another 18.3 percent.

  • Of the 4.5 million workers in high-technology occupations (scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and analysts), 37.9 percent worked in small firms in 1996.

  • Firms were started for very traditional reasons. Entrepreneurs had a clear perception of an opportunity to develop a business through a new product, coupled with a desire for both independence and financial reward.

  • The marketing strategy most frequently cited by respondents was either to be the first to the market with a new product or to find a market niche and develop it. These companies much less frequently wait for a market to develop.

Additionally, the fact that the stock market has been slowing during the past year will likely take some of the glitter off of the small business market. This will allow the Cambridge Strategy Group to establish a market presence and prepare to grow during the next period of rapid investment.

4.2.3 Market Needs

Within the small business market, there are a number of segments, each with distinct objectives, resources, and needs.

Customer SegmentationObjectivesResourcesNeeds
Micro-businesses
(1 - 4 people)
Not fundedDemonstrate viability of business plan.Initial ideas. Preliminary business plan. Few people. No budgets.Help formulating business plan to gain investor interest in idea. Business strategy.
Angel fundedGain second round of funding to start executing fully. Find resources.Qualified ideas. First level business plan. Few people. Small budgets.Defined roadmap and milestones. Creation of initial messaging.
Venture fundedBegin executing against business plan in pursuit of revenue and profit.Defined product/service. Basic messaging. Few people. Budgets and objectives to meet.Marketing deliverables. Sales strategies. Communication. More people/resources.
Small businesses
(5 - 200)
Not fundedDemonstrate viability of business plan.Initial ideas. Preliminary business plan. People. No budgets.Help formulating business plan to gain investor interest in idea. Business strategy.
Angel fundedGain second round of funding to start executing fully.Qualified ideas. First level business plan. People. Small budgets.Defined roadmap and milestones. Creation of initial messaging.
Venture fundedBegin executing against business plan in pursuit of revenue and profit.Defined product/service. Basic messaging. People. Budgets and objectives to meet.Marketing deliverables. Sales strategies. Communication. Experience, resources.

The Cambridge Strategy Group will initially target the funded segments of the small business market to ensure that its bills will be paid. As CSG becomes more sophisticated, it will consider performing work for equity.

4.3 Service Business Analysis

CORPORATE FIT
The Cambridge Strategy Group is poised to take advantage of the trends identified above. By combining the marketing and management experience, small business focus, and local presence in key markets, the Cambridge Strategy Group will help the growing number of small businesses increase their chances for success.

The Cambridge Strategy Group is a Limited Liability Company designed to offer limited liability to the members. CSG is incorporated in North Carolina where it will initially focus its operations. The rapidly growing Triangle Area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Research Triangle Park, was recently ranked #3 on the list of large metropolitan areas in Dun and Bradstreet's Entrepreneur magazine's sixth annual listing of the "Best Cities for Small Businesses." CSG's initial address is in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. However, with consultants distributed across the nation, CSG can easily expand its target client base to encompass other regions through the use of existing and tested technology. Currently, our consultants live in or near Phoenix, AZ; Chicago, IL; and Boston, MA in addition to Chapel Hill, NC.

4.3.1 Competition and Buying Patterns

Competitors to the Cambridge Strategy Group fall into four categories:

  1. Segment Rivals: Segment Rivals offer the exact same services as the Cambridge Strategy Group. These firms must focus exclusively on small businesses and offer marketing and/or management strategy services. While the market is certainly large enough to sustain multiple segment rivals, the Cambridge Strategy Group will attempt to ensure that its name is well known in all its target markets.

  2. Market Rivals: There are a number of available Market Rivals who compete with the Cambridge Strategy Group while having slightly different business focuses. Examples of market rivals include start-up focused branches of Big Five Consulting Firms, Management Consulting Firms, and Venture Capitalists who also provide business services. The Cambridge Strategy Group will attempt to compete with these firms by demonstrating its focus on "small business consulting."

  3. Generic Rivals: Generic Rivals represent alternative solutions. The main alternative to outsourcing work to a consulting firm is performing the work in-house. The Cambridge Strategy Group will attempt to demonstrate the value of outsourcing marketing and management work to a consulting firm in order to (1) utilize the core competencies of the consulting firm and (2) reduce the costs associated with hiring full-time employees.

  4. Structural Rivals: Structural Rivals are the forces inherent in the market through which the firm must operate. These forces were described in the previous section entitled Target Market Analysis.

4.3.2 Business Participants

A number of other firms will compete with the Cambridge Strategy Group. Due to the size of the available market, it will be exceptionally difficult for any of these competitors to gain significant market share. However, it will also be difficult for the Cambridge Strategy Group to control the market.