Sample Dissertation Chapter Paper on MBA 4800

  • Proposed Title of Project

Business consultancy for a start-up company that provides consumer website building tools
  • The rationale for the Project: Provide a brief description of why you want to do this project and your specific suitability for doing it.
Why?

  • I wish to begin a business in this field since very few entrepreneurs have ventured into the similar area. Less competition from other entrepreneurs makes it a viable business opportunity that I can profitably run
  • There is scope for several competitive strategies, segmentation, complementary services and interesting business models that I can use to accomplish this project effectively. The availability of such items further makes it a viable business opportunity for exploitation
  • Some segments can be better served
Suitability
  • Besides business knowledge, I’ve also got product knowledge and domain expertise since I previously worked for a competitor company.
  • My experience and business awareness during the working period has exposed me to the technicalities involved in putting up a similar project
  • I have carried out the feasibility study for the project and calculated the estimated cost of the project. I have further gathered enough funds to start up the entire project.

 

  • Summary/background information on industry/sector  and organisation(s) concerned
The purpose of the product is to allow consumers without technical skills in computer programming to build a website for personal or professional use or for running the operations of small businesses. Appropriate and easy to use tools will be availed to the customers whom they can use to build their business website. Such products come in several forms with different pricing models. Historically, some were desktop software that had one-time payment like the now discontinued, Microsoft FrontPage. Other more recent products are web based applications that have monthly or yearly pricing, hence expensive to the customers. This project will provide the tools at a reduced price and convenient to the customers.

 

The Website designer industry today is growing at a fast rate with several companies with global reach. There are claims, for instance, that competitors such as Wix have over 4 million websites built with their product. Besides, there are other substitute products such as Google Blogger and WordPress.  These, however, do not provide the designing capability suitable for designing a competitive website building.

 

There have been cases of other companies that have expressed interest in venturing into similar production lines. Ztech, Company, for instance, is a start-up company based in Dubai, who is seeking to venture into this industry. Ztech, however, lacked the technical know-how about the project and thus recruited me as a senior consultant for their project design in Dubai to come up with a business plan and market research for their intended project.

 

  • Aims and objectives of the project and clear statement of the main problem or opportunity to be addressed by the project
  1. Needs identification: the study will identify the varied needs of various individuals and small businesses and determine why and how they build or opt to build websites, and what they look for when building such websites.
Identify different segments of consumer needs
  1. Segmentation and Competitor analysis: this project will also carry out a competitor analysis to find out whether competitors satisfy all the needs of consumers. In respect to this, gaps in competitors’ offerings shall be identified, and suggestions made which shall aid in the building of the product that will address the needs of underserved segments.
The following are potential gaps:

·         Website designers and blogging platforms are mostly separate products, where one provides lots of designing (aesthetic, look and feel editing) capabilities and the other providing ease of making structured content. There is a relative scope for assembling these classes of products into one.

·         Many competitors do not allow consumers to host their website on their existing web servers (for the ones who do have existing web servers). Most of them provide their hosting. This is rather expensive for the customers who aim at profit making. Further hosting expenses adds to the losses.

·         Most competitors do not serve the needs of developers who need to add back-end code.

·         There seems to be a relative scope for the professional community (web designers, photographers and product integrators’) involvement in better-helping customers makes their websites and also reduce the time for making a website.

  1. Pricing: the study shall also recommend a pricing structure for each segment.
  2. Advertising: the tools shall provide a suitable plan for carrying out various activities such as advertising, branding and communications strategy, its associated costs and estimated returns and measurement.
  3. Finance: Estimate the capabilities and resources required starting the business in Dubai, and associated costs involved in starting and running the business. Suggest which functions/tasks can be outsourced and which ones are needed internally. Recommend ways to get funding for the business. Recommend strategic partnerships and alliances if applicable.
  4. Building Capabilities and Management structures: Suggest strategies for building and boosting internal capabilities and the systems/policies that would guide the future direction of the organization – key areas includes the organizational structure, HR policies, training, employee satisfaction, knowledge management, organizational learning, marketing and holistic marketing orientations.

 

  • Rationale for the methods used for data collection and analysis
I’d begin with a focus group of carefully selected individuals from the guessed market used in segments by Elepu, (2005). The individuals shall be selected purposively based on their business needs and ability to utilize web-based services. Then find out their needs in order to refine my ideas concerning market segmentations and needs. Focus group results cannot be generalized; hence the next logical step will do a survey of a larger audience as Bobby, (2013) recommends. The results of the survey will then be used to find out more refined and concrete needs, expectations and segmentation of the target market.

 

Competitor analysis is more difficult as it may need inside information as well (Mark & Margaret, 2002). I will have to take advantage of my personal people network, to connect to individuals working for competitors to find out such information. Based on the bulk of information gathered from these people, I will conduct a SWOT analysis in order to develop a suitable plan for beating the identified and analysed competitors. The primary focus of the competitors’ analysis shall be pegged on the Weaknesses and Threats while the strengths and objectives shall be used to realign my future developments.

 

Besides, the above strategies, I will also need to consult a few relevant key informants including specialists in the web experts, market analysts and project designers. These people will provide an insight into the fundamentals of the project as Krishna, (1989) notes. Probing details shall be investigated in order to come up with the suitable plan for carrying out the project.

 

  • The specific types of data to collect to be able to meet your project aims and objectives
1. Customer needs: only the customer needs relevant to this project will be collected. Such will include technological needs, market requirements, etc.

2. Competitor offering analysis and their internal capabilities. The information on the competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, objectives, and threats shall be gathered for use in further decision-making

3. Market characteristics: data relating to this shall include market structure, consumer characteristics (income levels, consumption patterns, tastes and preferences, etc.)

4. Technological requirements are available: information on the relevant technological applications to be sued in the project shall be ascertained at the preliminary stages of the projects’ development. The associated costs (costs of purchase, transportation, installation, maintenance and replaceability) shall be gathered to inform decision making on the relevant needs of the project.

Information on the ICT capability of the participants, readiness of the participants to adopt e technology in their businesses, etc

5. Cost analysis for the entire project: cost analysis involves a critical and careful analysis of the entire project from start to completion taking into account the various costs incurred. The expenses shall then be compared to the estimated sales to get the beneficial impacts of the project in the region

6. Locational characteristics: locational advantage shall be analyzed based on the following factors; market availability, consumer needs, infrastructural development, e.g., Internet availability and stability, consumer interests and accessibility of the products to the expected consumers.

Macro and micro-level inhibitors as well as constraints to the csuccess of the entire project (these includes, the legal requirements, and the industrial support associations) especially since the project requires industry networks

 

  • Issues of reasonable access to the kinds of data and information you expect to need
Several issues are expected to be met in the process of collecting the relevant data to be sued in the analysis for the project. The following are some of the related issues;

  1. Adequacy of the representative sample:  the surveys and other research methodologies that will be carried out to determine the right procedures and specifications for the project will be based on samples. The bigger the sample frame, the higher the degree of accuracy (National Audit Office, 2001). The most suitable sample population for the survey might be hard to meet the information gained to inform decision making for the implementation of this project hence will be based on assumptions, which may otherwise not represent the true face of reality. Surveying the entire population is unexpected and unrealistic. Besides, such surveys will be very costly to any organization hence the reliance on the project findings on population sample information.
  2. Long legal and bureaucratic procedures: the legal procedures required to be met during the implementation process of the project are long and complex (). This might take longer than expected thus eating into the operations time. Besides, it is common that, the process of following up with the legal obligations might require additional funds thus adding to the implementation expenses.
  3. Time availability: the available time required for the project design, inquiries and implementation may be limited because long and complex procedures that need to be conducted. This may limit the adequate information gathering and consequently encapsulate into long term effects.
  4. Market assumptions: the information on the market suitability and functionality are based on assumptions that may not reflect the reality on the ground (). Consumer theories will be sued to determine the consumer patterns and availability as well as determine the consumer tastes and preferences. These theories may not reflect reality on the ground

 

  • How any data collected will be analysed
The data collected will be mainly qualitative. The analysis approaches to be sued, therefore, will be majorly qualitative in nature.

  • Data gathered from consumer characteristics, consumption patterns, etc. collected through the use of FGDs, and surveys will be analyzed by using the Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) version 13.0
  • The data generated from surveys and FGDs will be harmonised with those generated from key informants in order to get sound information on the aspects probed.

 

  • Organizational and business barriers/problems that may occur, and how these may be overcome
 

  1. Uncertainty – Like all new start-ups uncertainty of whether the business will “click” or not is a concern. In spite of identifying customer’s needs, speaking to potential customers directly, and making a good product, there is still an uncertainty as to how many people will ultimately buy the product.

Also, as Henry Mintzberg (1994 would say, there is no way to predict the future with a definitive level of accuracy. Market conditions could change affecting the pricing of the product, consumer tastes could change, and so on. The mentioned techniques will reduce uncertainty, but can never eliminate it.

  1. Online advertising is a challenge (Saikat, Bin, & Paul, 2010). Online advertising is a complete new field in the business sector. Many people especially the older generation are not aware of the concepts and fundamentals of the exercise. Expertise will, therefore, be required to steer the entire process and ensure proper maintenance of the systems concerned.
  2. Development of the product will take an estimated six months or more. Since product development tasks can be split up, hiring freelancers can help. However, it requires dedicated in-house employees to split the work, write the work specifications, follow-up and supervise the work being done.  With discipline, this could reduce development time.
  3. Poor infrastructural developments in the areas targeted by the project could as well be a hindrance to its success (World Economic Forum, 2013). Technological applications are fully reliant on the internet (David, 2005). In some places, Internet applications are not stable and fall out from time to time. This may affect people’s levels of access and maximum utilization of the resources availed to them
  4. Market dynamics: it is not certain that the target market will be stable all through. There are instances when the market is at its lowest, and this can negatively affect maximum utilization of the services provided (Jehoshua & Thomas, 1988)

 

  • The likely outcomes of your project. How your findings may be used by the organization(s) and markets concerned.
The findings from this project research are expected to be beneficial not just to project developers but also to entrepreneurs who wish to venture into a similar business. The following are highlights of some of the benefits expected to be accrued from the project both immediately as well as over time

  1. When the project is finally implemented, it will offer employment opportunity to millions of business opportunists who would wish to use the information generated here to start up their business ventures
  2. This project is also a landmark solution to related researches in the future. Budding researchers will gain much insight from the findings and consequently the implementation and success of the process. In attaining this, the project will bring a new dimension to research and business in entirety.
  3. Moreover, the project is also expected to contribute immensely to business activities by enabling customers to build websites for online business activities. This is expected to present considerable success in business operations around the clock.

 

  • Plan or timetable: Show when you plan to complete each of the major elements of your project.
 

ACTIVITY

 

STARTING TIME

 

 

COMPLETION TIME

 

DURATION

Conceptualization of the Study Problem June 2014 December 2014 6 months
Proposal Writing

 

January 2015 March 2015 3 months
Proposal Presentation

 

April 2015(date) April 2015 (date) (Duration)
Correction of Proposal Presentation April 2015 May 2015 2 months
Pilot Study

 

May 2015 May 2015 1 month
Data Collection (QUAL) June 2015 August 2015 1 month
Data Analysis (QUAL) September 2015 September 2015 1 month
Report Writing and Corrections October 2015 November 2015 2 months
Report Submission

 

December 2015    
Total Duration June 2014 December 2015 19 months

 

References

Bobby, J. C. (2013). Focus Groups and the Nature of Qualitative Marketing Research. Journal of Marketing Research, 14 (3), 353-364.

David, G. (2005). Factors Affecting the Successful Implementation of ICT Projects in Government. Electronic Journal of e-Government, 3 (4), 175-184. pDRKitL0XOqRdlxzAw&bvm=bv.93112503,d.d24

Elepu, G. (2005). Urban and suburban farmers markets in Illinois: a comparative analysis of consumer segmentation using demographics, preferences and behaviors. PhD Thesis. Urbana: University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

Jehoshua, E., & Thomas, S. R. (1988, August ). New Product Preannouncing Behavior. Journal of Marketing Research , 282-92.