TAM, SAM and SOM – huh?? 2

Having viewed several business plans over the years, a common (and very important) item missing from most plans is a breakdown of the company’s TAM, SAM and SOM in the marketing section of their plan. Wondering what these acronyms mean? Well you’re not alone – many entrepreneurs are not familiar with these terms. Here’s a quick explanation of what they mean, followed by an example:

  • TAM = Your Total Available or Addressable Market (everyone you wish to reach with your product)
  • SAM = Your Segmented Addressable Market or Served Available Market (the portion of TAM you will target)
  • SOM = Your Share of the Market (the subset of your SAM that you will realistically reach – particularly in the first few years of your business)

Identifying your TAM, SAM and SOM requires some market research (levels of research vary depending on your product and market potential), but once you gather the research you’ll have a better of idea of the percentages that coincide with each area.

Here’s an example:

You’re starting a concierge service in your city that focuses on doing tasks/running errands for busy people, and people who need additional assistance (elderly, handicapped, etc.).

Your TAM would be all busy people, elderly and handicapped people in your city. If your town has 150,000 people, you may find (through market research) that total possible demand for your business in your city is 15% (or 22,500 people). Note: If you have a competitor in your market, your TAM would be smaller since you will be sharing this market with another company.

Your SAM would be the portion of that 22,500 whom your current business model is targeting (this will be outlined in your business plan). For example, your business model is being set-up to service 7500 people/year. This means your SAM would be 33% of your TAM (or 5% of your total city’s population).

Your SOM would be the portion of your SAM that your business model can currently realistically serve. For example, you may only have 3 employees (yourself and two others), so realistically what percentage of SAM can you reach in the first two-to-three years? Let’s assume your company can effectively provide concierge services to 100 people/month or 1200 people/year. This means your SOM is about 16% of your SAM (or around 5% of your TAM, or a little under 1% of your total city’s population).

If you’re seeking funding, savvy investors will ask you for these items in your business plan, and they’ll want you to be able to back-up your numbers. This is why conducting some market research up front is important – and even advisable before you begin writing your business plan. It gives you the validation of your market potential.

Hopefully this clears up a bit of the market reach acronym soup!


About the Author Caroline is a two-time technology entrepreneur. She's co-founded and held the CEO position for two internet companies, OsoEco (social bookmarking/shopping site) and RealLead (mobile marketing for the real estate industry). Follow Caroline on Google+. Read more »

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