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Lessons Learned from Uber

Mar 16, 2016 7:00:00 AM Anne Richie Small Business, Financial Management


1. MOVE FIRST AND FAST….time can be your enemy!

What idea or growth area has been on your to-do list too long? Sometimes you can make a lot of money with a product or service that has a short life cycle.

The success of Uber will not likely last forever given the strength of the outside forces that will diminish margins (cab companies lobbying for level playing field, driver’s filing class action suits for employee status and insurance companies adding exclusions or surcharges to the driver’s policies). But in the interim, they will enjoy success in part because they were the first to get there and they didn't wait for all the rules to be set.

2. PICK YOUR CUSTOMERS WISELY…..they are not all created equal!

Have you identified all costs associated with your high maintenance customers? Do you have criteria to determine a good customer from a bad one?

Uber eliminates many of the costs associated with a bad customer relationship when driver’s rate their customers. Uber makes mediocre customer’s act better and bad customers walk, literally.

3. LOOK FOR UNCONVENTIONAL SOURCES OF SUPPLY….who knew there were so many cabbie wanna-bes?

Do you have people (or other resources) in your organization that are untapped and could be used for other purposes? Is your waste or excess capacity useful to someone else? Are your products or services applicable to a different industry or different purpose in your existing industry?

Uber tapped into a supply of drivers and vehicles that was previously unidentified, through the use of technology.


Do you search for trends in your industry, the economy, the regulatory environment or your customer’s behavior that, together, could result in a major shift in your industry in the future? On the downside, have you identified risks that could make your product or service offerings obsolete?

Uber evolved from the combination of many forces such as the surge in mobile device ownership, advancements in GPS technology, increase in entrepreneurial pursuits, shifts away from car ownership in many geographies and dissatisfaction with experiences in existing modes of transportation, for example.

Access to more information faster accelerates change in most industries. A key competitive advantage can be to think disruptively and proactively. Small business owners, especially, are strapped for resources and entrenched in running their business such that they don’t question industry protocols to think like a disruptor. Many opportunities can be created by analyzing why things are done the way they are, looking for patterns of behavior and relationships between costs for different customers and moving quickly with new ideas.

When your new ideas converge, call us. We’ll make sure that your financial information keeps pace with accelerated growth.

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Anne Richie

Written by Anne Richie

I help companies address financial needs, and provide information for financial decision making. I have an MBA in Finance from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Smith College.