Competition Is Only Proof For Your Belief
By Bjoern Wind On February 1, 2015
An entrepreneur always wants to be the first and the best. The first is true but only the second is essential. Working on MyHelpster we realized fast, that there are others challenging the professional service industry. This personal experience and the lessons we drew from it are worth sharing and shall be done in the following, because we understood, that competition is only proof for your belief.
Imagine you have an idea. It is great. You have never heard of something like that before and your preliminary market research makes you even more confident, that you’ve found it; THE break-through idea – in terms of VC´s it’s called “disruptive”. You and your friend start working on it – day and night. As it is quite complex and the launch of a minimum viable product seems too fast, you do research, research and more research. Bottom line, you have a bunch of folders packed with a countless number of excel sheets. One of your favorites is the one called “competition and market analysis”. It shows that you really understand the market and its logics. What seems even more important; there is nothing like your idea – not even close. There is a huge gap in the spreadsheet, which describes exactly your point of difference – it is your column of success.
Having concluded your basic research you start working on the next steps; setting up your team, (finally) your first MVP and so on. Time flies and you start approaching potential promoters of your idea. You have talks with interested Business Angels, wealthy family members and so on. Everybody is pleased and unless something really goes wrong you are confident to successfully seek your first round of financing, only a half year after you originally started conducting your research and shaping your idea. But then, on a peaceful afternoon, you just want to search for some additional market facts to conclude your pitch-deck, it is there; COMPETITION and its not only some kind of lousy competition, no it is GOOGLE (!!!) – yes exactly Google. Google had the same stupid idea as you are working on right now. The only difference is; they already launched, it is damn good (not nearly as good as MyHelpster but still damn good) and you know they have deep pockets. Actually I have to admit they had the idea before us. Exactly one month after we conducted our research and thought; ok “that’s our gap” they launched it. At that point we already walked from door to door and told everybody about our great idea. Yeah well obviously the idea was great, but what can me and other people draw from that?
First the Internet is fast and dynamic. As your idea seemed brand new yesterday it might not be anymore – even more, it is probable that at the same time at least one other promising Silicon Valley startup, or even worse a large player like Google is working on exactly the same idea. This is a fact you have to accept if you want to build an Internet startup in a promising industry. Nevertheless the Internet offers a great variety of tools to monitor your competition and a specific industry. To mention our competitors by name again; “Google Alert” is a great, simple and free tool to analyze everything your competition is doing.
Additionally try to bring your product out as fast as possible and then start adjusting and shaping it. There is a reason why Eric Ries had such a convincing success with his book The Lean Startup. Read it and apply its MVP, lean-go-to market approach. It really helps and applies practically to every startup, even to ours we realized in the flashback.
Third and most important: Stay self-confident and see upcoming competition as proof of concept! No matter who is entering the market, trust in yourself that you can do it better and understand competition as a motivator to prove yourself and to “tease others” as Richard Branson always said. This is especially the case when a major player like Google enters the market. Never forget, even though others might have deeper pockets, they also have weaknesses and there are always pros and cons of being the first but also being a follower.
Hence, competition is only proof for your believe. Go for it!