Josh LanceJosh Lance

Positioning For Success

In starting up your company, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made, from deciding who you need to hire to what accounting system you should use.  Anyone who has started a company from the bottom up knows the infrastructure that needs to be created in order to have a business.  However, what many businesses fail to do is determine how they are positioned in the marketplace.

In Tim Williams book, Positioning for Professionals, he centers positioning strategy into four questions:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • How?
  • Why?

In determining how you answer these questions will determine how your build your positioning strategy.  To start, you can create and answer the following sentence with your answers to the four questions:  For (who), we (what) by (how), because (why).  For example, Tesla Motors mission statement is to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to the market as soon as possible.  If Tesla were to answer the positioning question above, it would say: For early adopting and green consumers, we create compelling mass market electric cars by leveraging technological advancements and the demand of electric cars because we want to accelerate the advent of sustainable transportation.    That is a fairly unique and strong positioning strategy.

In order to have a strong positioning strategy, you need to have a leading question (out of the four) that is narrow in focus and drives the rest of the questions.  If your answers for all four questions results are broad in nature, then it will be hard to position your startup in the market.  It is imperative to have a narrow focus in one of the questions in order to have strong positioning strategy.  In Tesla’s case, it has a narrow “What” strategy of creating compelling mass market electric cars.   Tesla is not just another car company. Rather it makes a very specific type of car and currently has only one model of car in the marketplace (Model S).  It’s “What” strategy as a car maker is much different than the positioning strategies of other car makers who typically have either a “Who” or “How” strategy.  In fact Tesla’s positioning strategy puts it more in line with Apple than it does with Ford.

For your startup, how do you answer these questions?  Which of the answers to the four questions is your leading strategy and is narrow in focus?  We can provide consulting to startups in determining how to create a positioning strategy.  Please fill out our intake form and setup a meeting to get started!

About Josh Lance

A licensed certified public accountant (IL) and Chartered Global Management Accountant, Josh is also a family man who calls Chicago home.  Before venturing on his own with a mission to help small businesses, Josh spent his early career at a top-10 national public accounting firm before working at an ultra high net worth family office.  Josh is also an adjunct professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.  He enjoys making wine at home, cooking, traveling, and cheering on his favorite football and soccer teams. Josh was honored by being selected to the 2017 class of the AICPA Leadership Academy and was named as one of the 40 under 40 in 2017 by CPA Practice Advisor.