By: Luciano M. Sappia Asst. Professor of Business and Entrepreneurship, Middlesex Community College, MA
During a recent session of Entrepreneurship in Small Business Management course (unofficially "Venture Development") a student was particularly troubled because she could not find or articulate a strong point of differentiation for the business she was looking to establish. She was in fact finding more obstacles and draw backs in her business model than positive attributes. She had come to the course with the idea of exploiting her trades training in masonry. During the process of the "Bird-in-hand" (assessing your means) this particular student set her goals on starting her own independent masonry practice. She quickly found that there is a strong bias preventing tradeswomen from entering and securing bids for construction related jobs (electrical, plumbing, masonry, carpentry, roofing, etc..) The feedback the student received from her classroom "Quilt" (network of peers and instructor) after she first revealed her finding was to use this bias as her point of differentiation. During this first attempt to turn this "lemon" into "lemonade" the student also realized that this was not just her problem but a problem faced by many tradeswomen that also affected the consumers. Another student had also point out that many women in the consumer side are not always comfortable having strange men come inside the house when they are the only ones there making it difficult and inconvenient to schedule repairs and other jobs. Encouraged by her classmates the student is now enjoying a "Sweet Glass of Lemonade" as she will now be focusing beyond just her own masonry practice and develop a referral network and database of tradeswomen for women.