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Old 06-03-2011, 08:57 AM
 
22,770 posts, read 27,556,130 times
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I'm looking for advice from experienced entrepreneurs, and business owners.

I currently work in the field of geographic information systems, and I've been thinking about starting a small business in my field. (I also have web design, development and some programming skills, but those would be secondary.) The problem is that I don't have any clients, and the actual service I'd be performing depends a great deal on the type of client I'd be serving, so even explaining what I can do to benefit them is a challenge.

For example, a politician or a business could give me a list of thousands of local (or nonlocal) addresses, and I could plot those addresses on a map, group, sort, and analyze them geographically by demographics, income, etc., and use that data to make decisions. You can determine which areas are optimal to target for more advertising, or simply to get a better understanding of your customers or political base.

Or, I could build a web-mapping utility that allowed a business owner to see his/her data represented geographically across that map - sales, sites, transactions, customers, assets - the devil is in the details, and it is all custom analysis. I could perform a site analysis, i.e. the best place to build a McDonalds, using certain mappable criteria like traffic, undeveloped land, market competition with a certain driving or pedestrian distance, tax burden, you name it. When I begin to think about all the different types of businesses out there, the sort of data they collect, the sort of 3rd party data they could purchase to supplement their decision-making, and how all that data could be analyzed, it becomes a bit overwhelming.

http://www.esri.com/industries.html
(This is one list of the possible industries, that this technology can be applied to. Most of them are dominated by huge organizations, and I'm looking for smaller, more local clients to get this business off the ground.)

I realize my question is vague, but does anyone have any advice? I'd basically be a consultant, or an independent systems analyst, without any past business to "prove" that I'm capable.
Are you a business owner? If so, what sort of internal data do you collect?
Have you started a consulting business? How did you find clients?
If I approached you with a proposal, would you demand a quantitative cost-benefit analysis, or is the appeal of "Geographic Data Analysis" obvious? Is there a better way to market it?

Last edited by le roi; 06-03-2011 at 10:11 AM..
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Old 06-03-2011, 10:40 AM
 
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I think the starting point for your prospective business would be to approach the businesses you serve now and ask what additional services that you could provide would be of value to them.

As a new business without a track record of any services provided, you need to develop your sales approach around what benefit(s) you can bring to your clients perceived need(s) as opposed to presenting them with a menu of possible things you can do. Your skillset is far broader than what your clients may be able to visualize as a problem solving work product .... so target your self narrowly to what you're hearing is a need.

Underselling what you can do may be a greater asset than overselling everything that you can do of value to a client.
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Old 06-03-2011, 10:57 AM
 
22,770 posts, read 27,556,130 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
I think the starting point for your prospective business would be to approach the businesses you serve now and ask what additional services that you could provide would be of value to them.
I don't currently serve any businesses.

Quote:
As a new business without a track record of any services provided, you need to develop your sales approach around what benefit(s) you can bring to your clients perceived need(s) as opposed to presenting them with a menu of possible things you can do.
ok, i agree. i guess the challenge is understanding their business and what it needs, before i can know what to sell them.

there is a developed market for GIS services, particularly in the utility industry, that is well-served by various engineering firms. i'm not looking to compete with them. there is also a market for environmental and natural resource management, as well as local government contracts, which are all served by existing firms in this area.

Quote:
Underselling what you can do may be a greater asset than overselling everything that you can do of value to a client.
what do you mean?

Last edited by le roi; 06-03-2011 at 11:12 AM..
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Old 06-03-2011, 11:45 AM
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
31,187 posts, read 68,350,041 times
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This sounds like a sub specialty that can relate to a LOT of different businesses...
but such a specialty that the REAL decision makers will be delegating to the IT types.

As such... your marketing needs to be at this lower unit level not to the "ownership class".
But most of these guys are real sensitive about having anyone else do anything they think they can... and generally abhor delegating responsibility for anything.
----

"undersell and overdeliver" Modesty.
Push only the 2 or 3 points you're strongest in and then come through doing them superlatively and/or bringing another 2 or 3 along.
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Old 06-03-2011, 12:18 PM
 
22,770 posts, read 27,556,130 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrRational View Post
This sounds like a sub specialty that can relate to a LOT of different businesses...
but such a specialty that the REAL decision makers will be delegating to the IT types.

As such... your marketing needs to be at this lower unit level not to the "ownership class".
I'm thinking of serving small entities, possibly ones without an IT staff at all. This would not be a full time business off the bat; depending on what I'm doing, the software I'd need to purchase runs anywhere from $1000 / year, to $50,000 / year.
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Old 06-03-2011, 04:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by le roi View Post
I'm looking for advice from experienced entrepreneurs, and business owners.
A few years ago I created a full mapping system from scratch. Now they are a dime a dozen. You can simply "feed" in the data and it's corresponding geographic values (long/lat, zip code, whatever) and it will present the data as a graphical map based image. Almost any software development IDE has a GIS component available for it. There are even webbased ones that you can use as a web service.

What you probably need to do is determine what business related GIS offerings are valuable to whatever industry you want to serve. Then sell that to potential clients. Call them, stop by, go to trade shows, or whatever it takes to find out if they are willing to pay for what you plan to offer. If so, take the time to create the product. If you can't find anyone interested in what you plan to offer, move on to your next idea.
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Old 06-03-2011, 05:46 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_CD View Post
A few years ago I created a full mapping system from scratch.
ok. what i'm talking about involves analysis of data, as well as mapping. they have a desktop suite, and a geodatabase server. as far as i know there is only one firm, ESRI, who has a "full mapping system", and they more or less have a monopoly on this software.
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Old 06-03-2011, 07:14 PM
 
1,475 posts, read 2,338,900 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by le roi View Post
what i'm talking about involves analysis of data, as well as mapping.

as far as i know there is only one firm, ESRI, who has a "full mapping system", and they more or less have a monopoly on this software.
The analysis and display of the data may be good things to pursue.

There were a few different full systems out there and many components for creating mapping software a few years ago. There was also more than one data standard other than ESRI.
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Old 06-14-2011, 08:16 AM
 
22,770 posts, read 27,556,130 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_CD View Post
The analysis and display of the data may be good things to pursue.

There were a few different full systems out there and many components for creating mapping software a few years ago. There was also more than one data standard other than ESRI.
Google has some products, but they sell a service, not this kind of software. Nothing I know of compares to ESRI. It is light years ahead of other technologies in terms of building integrated geospatial systems.

I guess my plan will be to try and make personal contacts with people, and talk to them about what I can do. Maybe I'll get lucky.
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Old 06-16-2011, 12:59 AM
 
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Planning makes everything perfect. As such before starting any business we need a perfect plan to make it move further. Planning makes everything in a good direction also a planning should be a motivated planning so that all the people going to work in a business gets motivated and do work according to it. So I will suggest you to plan each and everything before starting a new business about its space, environment to have a full filled office atmosphere.

Last edited by AlbionColt; 06-16-2011 at 01:11 AM..
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