We've got a great business with a great model. Often I get asked "But what are your barriers to entry from competition?" Now if your first answer is your patents, think again. That doesn't prevent anyone from copying what you do. When I was at Novell many years ago, we viewed patents as a great tool for negotiating a deal. So, we do have some very clever technology. Not enough. We also have a very unique business model. Very niche oriented segmentation. Maybe or maybe not enough. But the one thing you can have which cannot be copied is relationships. Great post on this on Tom Peter's blog.
In an age of interchangeable products and easily duplicated services, customer relationships have become one of the most powerful competitive advantages available to a business.
Here's a personal example. We do all of our banking with Square 1 Bank. Why? Because they spent the time to get to know us. Know our needs. Understand our vision. And Bob, Leslie, Stasia, Amos and others are always available and quick to help whenever we need them. And we return the favor whenever we can. Should Silicon Valley Bank come calling when we are successful would we change? I doubt it. Because we've spent a lot of time with our bankers. And once you have a good relationship, you never want to leave.