A business can be defined in terms of three dimensions: customer groups, customer needs, and technology.6 For example, a company that defines its business as designing incandescent lighting systems for television studios would have television studios as its customer group; lighting as its customer need; and incandescent lighting as its technology.
In line with Levitt's argument that market definitions of a business are superior to product definitions,7 these three dimensions describe the business in terms of a customer-satisfying process, not a goods-producing process. Thus, Xerox's product definition would be "We make copying equipment," while its market definition would be "We help improve office productivity." Similarly, Missouri-Pacific Railroad's product definition would be "We run a railroad," while its market definition would be "We are a people-and-goods mover."
Large companies normally manage quite different businesses, each requiring its own strategy; General Electric, as one example, has established 49 strategic business units (SBUs). An SBU has three characteristics: (1) It is a single business or collection of related businesses that can be planned separately from the rest of the company; (2) it has its own set of competitors; and (3) it has a manager responsible for strategic planning and profit performance who controls most of the factors affecting profit.
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At least once in every person’s life comes a time when the need is great and the resources are few. It can be hard enough to make ends meet on a decent wage, but, when the times get tough and the money just is not there to meet the need, a person can easily despair.