Analysts say software companies like NetBooks and ConnectWise play to the diversity of small businesses by avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach.
Michael Speyer of Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass., who focuses on information technology issues affecting small businesses, said that many high-tech companies segment potential customers by the number of employees they have, overlooking the concerns of entrepreneurs versus those of corporate managers.
By contrast, NetBooks considers factors like how active the owner is as a manager, how much daily control he or she requires, the owner’s attitude toward using technology and whether a venture capital company has invested money in the business.
“I like the fact that NetBooks has taken a psychographic approach to finding out who their customers are and what they really want,” Mr. Speyer said. “This is really what counts. I think the way they characterize the market is spot-on. Stages of development are really what counts.”
Sonal Gandhi, an analyst with JupiterResearch in New York, said that small businesses were more open to using an application developed by one of their own. “There is certain functionality they crave,” she said.
This New York Times article describes business accounting software developed by small business entrepreneurs for small business entrepreneurs. It's a classic example of someone solving their own problem and finding out that lots of other folks can use their solution.
But even if you aren't your own best customer doesn't mean that you can't develop products that start with psychographics of consumers rather than demographics or what your engineers can create. It can be more difficult, more time consuming and more expensive to take this approach but I believe the potential rewards and long term prospects for your product or service are much, much greater.