RECONSTRUCTING MARKET BOUNDARIES IN SCHOOL BUSINESS

Private School business like every other privately owned business are attributed to the entrepreneurial effort of the sole proprietor(s). But in the real sense of the entrepreneurial concept as evolved by the French economist, J. B. Say in 1800, it is a shift in economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.”

Hence, the acclaim that all schools are entrepreneurial efforts must stop, instead we term it venture creation. Until something new that can enhance productivity and afford higher yield is involved in new business, it is not an entrepreneurial effort.

It is the pinch of uniqueness which sprouts entrepreneurship that makes the ground for a competitive advantage in school business, and any other business. School business needs to mostly understand that aside from the regular service of teaching the syllabus, incorporating a foreign curriculum, something new and peculiar to your school is what sets you aside from the race.

At the core of every business is the primacy of value creation for a profitable exchange. However, when the value obtainable from patronizing your school is part of the norm, the same as obtainable everywhere and even at almost a lower price, you leave your customers with no choice than to rationally change their minds.

As a school business entrepreneur, striving to evolve and re-evolve competitive values in your service offering is key in staying ahead of the competitive game. Hence, the need for a continuous assessment and re-assessment of the values obtainable from patronizing your school.

Here is a simple task that can help you do this successfully – Please note that this activity needs to be carried out confidentially and ethically as you would need to reflect on the key drivers of your own business and others.

  1. Make a list of all the possible values derivable from patronizing your school – both common and uncommon values. Everything your customer enjoys for being a customer.

 

  1. Make a list of at least 5 known competitors in this regards
    1. Direct Competitors in your immediate business environment with the same business size
    2. Direct competitors in your immediate business environment with bigger and smaller business size.
    3. Indirect competitors outside your immediate environment with the same size of business
    4. Indirect competitors outside your immediate environment with bigger and smaller business size.
    5. Indirect competitors who are in alternate industries who offer products and services to your existing customers for a different value other than your own business. For example, parents of your schools also patronize shopping malls to get cloths for their children. Even private tutors should be part of this list.

 

  1. List values derivable by customers of these same competitors of your business.

 

  1. Do a cross out when you find a similar value offering. If you are left with no value after crossing then you can understand that your school is in the crowd. Creating a standout is important.

 

  1. If you need to add more values to your service offering, looking at alternative industries can help you. GT Bank has actually taken the lead in SME and retail banking by scaling across conventional value offering to customers with additional values such as the GTB Fashion week, GTB Food Fair – all these are targeted values to help them stand out from the crowd. MTN also came up with the Mobile Banking Value by offering soft uncollateralized loans to its customers by taking a clue from an alternative industry – the banking industry.

 

What stops your school from having a maternity home, where pregnant women can have ante-natal clinics, post natal clinic and of course day care and then your elementary school.  There are few more competitive value than adding programming and machine language learning to your curriculum at this time where this skill is regarded as the 21st century skill.

 

One other way of reconstructing the market boundaries of your school is producing what you and others in your industry buy. Corona Schools has shown this by also selling what she also buys; teachers training. Coronas owns and runs its own teachers training institute which other schools too can patronize.

 One competitive advantage of the Dangote group is its backward and forward integration strategy, the Dangote groups adds a business to its business if it often requires the product of the business. This has greatly reduced cost in the Dangote group and of course it became a competitive advantage that can cause the group alone to account for 60% of the country’s GDP in some years.

You need to understand that the queue is long. You need to create an uncontested market space, that is, a new demand, a new thirst every time to stay ahead of the game. Call up your team for a focus group session and begin to brainstorm about this as you prepare for the next academic session.

Further reading:

Blue Ocean Strategy – W Chan Kim and Rene Mauborgne

Innovation and Enterpreneurship – Peter F Drucker.

The History of Universities

The History of Hospitals

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