People are often struck with a great idea for a business. They get super excited, start planning, only to find out it's already been done. This is where most people giving up thinking 'it's too late'. Well it definitely isn't! Here's why.
The value comes from the execution, not the idea.
There is an infinite amount of good ideas. I have new ideas everyday, and so does everybody else. But these ideas, including yours, are worth zip. Legitimately nothing. The true value comes from the execution of that idea, not the concept itself. What if I told you I wanted to create a pill that you took in the morning, it kept you totally healthy and you didn't have to eat at all for the rest of the day. Sure, that would make billions. But now go and do it... Very different story.
There are SO many other contributing factors to the success of a business that you probably haven't even considered yet, and by doing those things, is how you create million dollar businesses. On the topic of thinking of ideas, if you thought your idea was so obvious and revolutionary, it's quite likely one of the other 7 billion people in the world may have thought of it already...
Competition is good.
Competition is healthy, for a variety of reasons. Most of all because it validates the market that you were thinking about entering. There is always competition, whether it's direct or indirect. If you think there is absolutely none (which is so, so incredibly unlikely), I would strongly guess that you have some ludicrous idea that you probably shouldn't do.
Competition forces you to innovate and stops you getting complacent, it makes you improve your customer service which will gain loyal customers, and it helps you understand your customers so you can serve them better than the competition. If there weren't any other companies in your field, you probably wouldn't go into such detail, and as such, wouldn't be as good a company.
Google was the eleventh search engine. Do you think they should've stopped just because there was competition? I think not.
Focus on the weaknesses of your competition.
Now that we understand there are other players out there, something you can do is recognise on what they do poorly, and capitalise on that. Their weaknesses is what annoys their customers, so here's your chance to steal them.
In Sun Tzu's legendary book 'The Art of War', he talks about attacking where the enemy is weak. There's no use attacking where they are strong, because they will beat you. Focus on what you can do better, and do that. Ninja!
Whilst it is healthy to compete, you also need to be different. You need to do things better, or faster, or cheaper, or whatever is relevant to your business and your industry. Be unique in your approach, offer value in ways others cannot. Do things to stand out from the crowd, which leads me to my next point:
To really make a statement, be disruptive with your business, your approach and your marketing. Do something that others aren't, ruffle some feathers, get your name out there. When Richard Branson was taking on British Airways with Virgin, BA was putting up a ferris wheel, but they were having a tonne of difficulties and couldn't get it up. So Richard jumped at the opportunity and flew a blimp past with 'BA Can't Get It Up' and got a photo from the sky. Hilarious! Here's another crazy one.
When he was taking on Coke with Virgin Cola, he was outselling both Coke and Pepsi in Britain, and wanted to launch his product in the U.S with a bang (literally). In his craziest publicity stunt ever, he drove a tank through Times Square, ran over three tons of stacked Coke cans and fired the tank at the Coca Cola sign. Not a real gun, but he got pyrotechnics to secretly wire the sign with explosives the night before to make it look like it actually blew up.
Now, on top of the fact you don't have that kind of money, I certainly wouldn't recommend doing that these days because you might get shot down for being an assumed terrorist. However! It's an exaggerated example of how to be disruptive. Richard Branson once quoted 'You can't buy an ad on the front page of Time Magazine, but you can get on it!'.
If you haven't already noticed, I love Richard Branson. Legend.
Focus on the hard part of your business.
This is something interesting I heard in Seth Godin's Startup School Podcast (there's a link to that in my other article here). He talks about focusing on the important part of your business, which is the hardest. Here's what I mean.
Your logo is not hard, and not critically important. Your email signature is not hard. Even developing a website or an app is not hard. What is hard, is getting people to know about your product, knowing how to serve your customers better than the rest, figuring out how to make your system / operating procedure work effectively. Focus your energy on what really matters, don't just do little things to feel 'busy'.
In my final worlds, I would say assess the situation, the market, the competition and yourself, and then just get started. Have a crack, you've got nothing to lose, and so much to gain in terms of knowledge, networks and potentially money. Good luck!
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