Every entrepreneur dreams of dominating the market. The key to turning this dream into reality lies in understanding the market correctly.

In the complex world of entrepreneurship, where the line between success and failure is often razor-thin, three critical concepts can illuminate the path: TAM, SAM, and SOM. These terms aren't just buzzwords; they're essential tools for accurately assessing market opportunities and strategizing effectively.

What are TAM, SAM, and SOM?

A clear understanding of market potential allows companies to set realistic goals and allocate resources efficiently.

TAM: Total Addressable Market

TAM represents the total revenue potential of a product or service if it were to achieve 100% market share, with no competitors. It provides a vision of the maximum market size.

Example: Imagine a global software company estimating the TAM for cloud services at €100 billion. That's the dream scenario—capturing the entire market.

SAM: Serviceable Available Market

SAM is the portion of TAM that a company can realistically target and serve, based on its business model, capabilities, and constraints such as geographic or demographic factors.

Example: Now, let's focus on Europe. For our software company, the SAM in this region is €30 billion. This is the market they can realistically approach given their current resources and reach.

SOM: Serviceable Obtainable Market

SOM offers a realistic overview of the market share a company can capture under current conditions and with existing resources.

Example: Within Europe, our software company might realistically capture 10% of the market, giving them a SOM of €3 billion. This is the achievable slice of the pie.

Why are TAM, SAM, and SOM Important?

These concepts have a significant impact on business strategy:

How to Calculate TAM, SAM, and SOM?

TAM (Total Addressable Market)

TAM can be calculated using either a Top-Down or Bottom-Up approach.

SAM (Serviceable Available Market)

Calculating SAM requires detailed market segmentation. Companies must narrow down the TAM to the geographic or demographic segments they can realistically serve.

Example: If our software company operates only in certain regions, it would limit the SAM to those regions. This is about honing in on the practical targets.

SOM (Serviceable Obtainable Market)

SOM is often represented as a percentage of SAM and is based on current market conditions, competition, and other factors.

Example: A new company entering an established market estimates its obtainable market share based on historical market shares of similar products. It’s about being realistic and strategic.


TAM, SAM, and SOM provide entrepreneurs with a clear and quantifiable way to turn their visions into reality. These concepts are the building blocks for successful business strategies. By understanding the total market, targeting feasible segments, and focusing on obtainable goals, companies can navigate the market landscape effectively.

So, whether you're a startup aiming to make your mark or an established player looking to recalibrate your strategy, TAM, SAM, and SOM are your guiding stars. Embrace these concepts, and let them illuminate your path to success.

This article is part of our Market Research Series “Assessing Market Potential with TAM, SAM, and SOM”:

  1. This article and introduction and why are TAM, SAM, and SOM important and examples of how VCs assess market potential.
  2. How to calculate TAM, SAM, and SOM in multiple ways, from top-down to bottom-up, including examples.