iStopOver has a brilliant value proposition

I was doing some writing for an angel investing/venture capital site and my research took me to the blog of Rick Segal (of JLA Ventures). Good content there for investors and start-up founders!

Anyway, one of the companies he mentioned in a recent blog was iStopOver. I read his little write-up about them then went over to their site: iStopOver.com. They have a residential section, too, but I was more interested in the office section.

Here’s a summary of what they do: Lots of offices have extra office space, unused boardrooms, and workrooms that have been built but not populated by employees. And those businesses have invested resources and are paying overhead on those office environments but aren’t recouping their investment. iStopOver says “why not rent that space out to traveling business people who need an occasional office?”

I think that’s a great idea. It’s a compelling value proposition for both sides of the transaction.

  • The business who rents out their office space earns a little to offset overhead and to make use of unused assets.
  • The business person who rents the space has way more flexibility (and dramatically less cost) than if they bought a membership to one of those virtual office locations, which might not be in the location they need to do business or might be too costly for a smaller company that doesn’t travel frequently.

To tie this back to the Business Diamond Framework™, this is a great way to convert a Support Diamond asset into a revenue-generating one. It is rare for Support Diamond assets or people to directly earn revenue, but this is a great case when that does happen.

Now the challenge that iStopOver is facing is this: They’re only valuable if they offer a lot of choice to travelers so they need to find businesses who are willing to rent space and they need to do it fast.

I just checked their Twitter presence, which seems like a good place to get both businesses and travelers. Seems like they’ve been fairly active, which is good. I forgot to check for a presence on LinkedIn but it seems like it a LinkedIn group aimed at business travelers might be a good idea.

*** Update August 6, 2013: I just learned that iStopOver is now 9Flats.com, focusing exclusively on residential instead of business renters. Interesting. Does that mean hotels or companies like Regus still have the corporate market locked up? It will be interesting to see if another business-focused company (similar to the office side of iStopOver) appears in the market.

On external forces affecting the business

bdf-w-words-fullWhen I’m introducing the Business Diamond Framework™ to someone, one of the questions I’m asked is “where does my industry and competition fit?”.

Indeed, their question could be broadened out even further — “Where does my target market fit?” “Where does the economy fit?”Those questions are understandable because the Framework seems to be a picture of the internal business only and so the assumption is that a Framework practitioner works with the 4 Function Diamonds to work on the inside of the business… but how do they interact with information from outside of the business?

The short answer

Because every business is different, each external force is examined in each Function Diamond. Here are three examples.A practitioner going through the Insight stage will:

  1. Look at a competitor’s Leadership Diamond, Support Diamond, Value-Add Diamond, and To-Market Diamond and then compare them to the same Function Diamonds of the target business
  2. Look at how the economy impacts each of the Function Diamonds
  3. Look at how the business’ target market might be impacted by the company’s Leadership or in the company’s Support structures.

    A more detailed answer

    Years ago, when the Business Diamond Framework™ started life, it began as something called the “Total Business Environment”. At that time, its purpose was to examine the various influences on the business. The prehistoric ancestor of the Framework did acknowledge external forces externally, but after frequent use, the tool changed. It became obvious over time that the elements like the economy and the supplier network (and so on) would impact the business in different ways, depending on the business itself. So it became important to look at how those external forces influenced the business and the most obvious way to do that was by reviewing each external force through the lens of the Function Diamonds.

    There are a number of benefits to this method:

    • It simplifies the steps for the practitioner
    • It takes the emphasis off of seemingly unchangeable external factors and puts the emphasis on how those factors influence the business (and how they can be changed)
    • It helps the practitioner to look at each external factor more thoroughly. For example, the practitioner is forced to look at how the economy impacts each of the 4 Function Diamonds.

    Client Spotlight: Gail Boswell’s Stay In Touch(R) System

    AaronHoos_BusinessWriter_client_SITSReal Estate professionals can have a hard time generating leads and getting repeat business. Part of the problem is lack of differentiation in a highly competitive market. That’s where Gail Boswell’s Stay In Touch® System comes in. Gail Boswell is a successful real estate professional who has helped other real estate professionals to connect with their target market through postcards.

    Her postcards are exceptionally well designed and her system has proven to be a success-generator for thousands of real estate agents over the years.

    I’ve been working with Gail and her team on a number of different projects, primarily to create a larger presence on the web. There is a huge opportunity for a number of professionals (real estate professionals, of course, but also financial professionals, medical professionals, and others) to grow their business with postcards.

    Favorite video: Vision of manufacturing video

    Decided to add another weekly feature to my blog: Favorite videos. Most of these will be related to business, strategy, and/or marketing in some way.

    This week’s favorite video: Microsoft’s future vision of manufacturing. I like it when companies dream big and think about what could be; I think it contribute to more than just their R&D department but it inspires other entrepreneurs to create as well!