Breaking Down Three Types Of Business Strategy

Business strategy is a choice of direction to grow a company’s value in the marketplace. While the strategy might seem all about techniques, objectivity, and bound to the real world.

It is also a matter of philosophy, in short, how the company interprets the real world and thinks it will develop in the future.

There are many ways to break down business strategy.

Let’s perhaps, start with a simple break-down of business strategy, in three core parts:

Market entry: context-based

An entry strategy is a way an organization can access a market based on its structure. The entry strategy will highly depend on the definition of potential customers in that market and whether those are ready to get value from your potential offering. It all starts by developing your smallest viable market.

A market entry will vary from the company’s size or existing products. If, for instance, a company like Microsoft or Google enters new markets, they will not do it as niche players.

Instead, they might build, acquire, or grow products that have the potential to gain a large customer/user base, quickly.

However, if we instead take into account a business strategy for startups, therefore, companies entering a market as a new player, there might be three primary ways to do it:

When entering the market, as a startup you can use different approaches. Some of them can be based on the product, distribution, or value. A product approach takes existing alternatives and offers only the most valuable part of that product. A distribution approach cuts out intermediaries from the market. A value approach offers only the most valuable part of the experience.

Breaking apart existing offerings

One way is to look at the product and unbundle it compared to what existing players are doing.

This process looks at the current product offering in the marketplace and makes the product better and more convenient.

Take the case of Apple turning the music industry upside down, by offering single songs on its iTunes (a model then made obsolete by Spotify as it offered all songs users wanted with a single subscription.

Breaking apart the distribution network

A second way is through disintermediation.

Therefore, the entry player will identify the part of the distribution network that can be substituted.

Take the case of OTAs (Booking, TripAdvisor, or else) removing or at least making the physical agency irrelevant by offering a wide variety of comparisons online, on their platforms.

Breaking apart the value chain

Another entry strategy is that of identifying within the customer journey, the most valuable part, to offer that alone.

Perhaps, Birchbox offering a subscription service to provide customers samples of pre-selected cosmetic products, remove the hardest part from the value chain (select those products in the first place) while providing what might be perceived as the most valuable part (high-quality pre-selected cosmetics delivered straight to the customer, thus removing the most challenging part).

A microniche is a subset of potential customers within a niche. In the era of dominating digital super-platforms, identifying a microniche can kick off the strategy of digital businesses to prevent competition against large platforms. As the microniche becomes a niche, then a market, scale becomes an option.

In that sense, companies entering several markets will opt initially for a niche, or a small segment of the industry, to validate the idea, gain traction, and evolve their business models from there.

For instance, when PayPal entered the market, it didn’t do it by trying to bring in as many customers from all over the place.

It simply found out that many of its power users were on eBay, and it surfed, what it was at the time a giant.

As we’ll see by the end of the article, eventually eBay acquired PayPal, and by 2015, it spun it off. Today PayPal is worth much more than eBay.

Growth and market share acquisition

Once companies have entered markets successfully, it’s the turn of figuring out growth, to gain a competitive advantage.

According to Michael Porter, a competitive advantage, in a given industry could be pursued in two key ways: low cost (cost leadership), or differentiation. A third generic strategy is a focus. According to Porter a failure to do so would end up stuck in the middle scenario, where the company will not retain a long-term competitive advantage.
Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation, which in a way has to be “scientific” by keeping in mind that it is used by startups to grow, quickly. Thus, the “scientific” here is not meant in the academic sense. Growth marketing is expected to unlock growth, quickly and with an often limited budget.

Business model renewal

Once the company has reached a mature stage with its business model, it gets the time to renew it.

This renewal can happen in several ways. Some of them can be through:

Integration and consolidation: vertical or horizontal

Horizontal integration refers to the process of increasing market shares or expanding by integrating at the same level of the supply chain, and within the same industry. Vertical integration happens when a company takes control of more parts of the supply chain, thus covering more parts of it.

Placing bets

Google (now Alphabet) primarily makes money through advertising. The Google search engine, while free, is monetized with paid advertising. In 2021 Google’s advertising generated over $209 billion (beyond Google Search, this comprises YouTube Ads and the Network Members Sites) compared to $257 billion in net sales. Advertising represented over 81% of net sales, followed by Google Cloud ($19 billion) and Google’s other revenue streams (Google Play, Pixel phones, and YouTube Premium).

An example of placing bets on the future is how companies like Google, have within their portfolio, a set of companies, which product and potential business model (many of them are still at the development stage) is in part adjacent (like self-driving that can be used also to improve existing products) or, for now, disjoined.

Those bets might become a whole new business model, company, or spin-off, that might become an entity on its own.

For instance, back in 2015, eBay spun off PayPal. Today PayPal has a market cap of over $200 billion, compared to eBay’s over $40 billion market cap.

Read Next: Business Model Innovation, Business Models.

Related Innovation Frameworks

Business Engineering


Business Model Innovation

Business model innovation is about increasing the success of an organization with existing products and technologies by crafting a compelling value proposition able to propel a new business model to scale up customers and create a lasting competitive advantage. And it all starts by mastering the key customers.

Innovation Theory

The innovation loop is a methodology/framework derived from the Bell Labs, which produced innovation at scale throughout the 20th century. They learned how to leverage a hybrid innovation management model based on science, invention, engineering, and manufacturing at scale. By leveraging individual genius, creativity, and small/large groups.

Types of Innovation

According to how well defined is the problem and how well defined the domain, we have four main types of innovations: basic research (problem and domain or not well defined); breakthrough innovation (domain is not well defined, the problem is well defined); sustaining innovation (both problem and domain are well defined); and disruptive innovation (domain is well defined, the problem is not well defined).

Continuous Innovation

That is a process that requires a continuous feedback loop to develop a valuable product and build a viable business model. Continuous innovation is a mindset where products and services are designed and delivered to tune them around the customers’ problem and not the technical solution of its founders.

Disruptive Innovation

Disruptive innovation as a term was first described by Clayton M. Christensen, an American academic and business consultant whom The Economist called “the most influential management thinker of his time.” Disruptive innovation describes the process by which a product or service takes hold at the bottom of a market and eventually displaces established competitors, products, firms, or alliances.

Business Competition

In a business world driven by technology and digitalization, competition is much more fluid, as innovation becomes a bottom-up approach that can come from anywhere. Thus, making it much harder to define the boundaries of existing markets. Therefore, a proper business competition analysis looks at customer, technology, distribution, and financial model overlaps. While at the same time looking at future potential intersections among industries that in the short-term seem unrelated.

Technological Modeling

Technological modeling is a discipline to provide the basis for companies to sustain innovation, thus developing incremental products. While also looking at breakthrough innovative products that can pave the way for long-term success. In a sort of Barbell Strategy, technological modeling suggests having a two-sided approach, on the one hand, to keep sustaining continuous innovation as a core part of the business model. On the other hand, it places bets on future developments that have the potential to break through and take a leap forward.

Diffusion of Innovation

Sociologist E.M Rogers developed the Diffusion of Innovation Theory in 1962 with the premise that with enough time, tech products are adopted by wider society as a whole. People adopting those technologies are divided according to their psychologic profiles in five groups: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.

Frugal Innovation

In the TED talk entitled “creative problem-solving in the face of extreme limits” Navi Radjou defined frugal innovation as “the ability to create more economic and social value using fewer resources. Frugal innovation is not about making do; it’s about making things better.” Indian people call it Jugaad, a Hindi word that means finding inexpensive solutions based on existing scarce resources to solve problems smartly.

Constructive Disruption

A consumer brand company like Procter & Gamble (P&G) defines “Constructive Disruption” as: a willingness to change, adapt, and create new trends and technologies that will shape our industry for the future. According to P&G, it moves around four pillars: lean innovation, brand building, supply chain, and digitalization & data analytics.

Growth Matrix

In the FourWeekMBA growth matrix, you can apply growth for existing customers by tackling the same problems (gain mode). Or by tackling existing problems, for new customers (expand mode). Or by tackling new problems for existing customers (extend mode). Or perhaps by tackling whole new problems for new customers (reinvent mode).

Innovation Funnel

An innovation funnel is a tool or process ensuring only the best ideas are executed. In a metaphorical sense, the funnel screens innovative ideas for viability so that only the best products, processes, or business models are launched to the market. An innovation funnel provides a framework for the screening and testing of innovative ideas for viability.

Idea Generation


Design Thinking

Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO, defined design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Therefore, desirability, feasibility, and viability are balanced to solve critical problems.

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