The students in my entrepreneurship course at Stanford often obsess about how to react to competitors. “What if I find out there’s a giant competitor for my startup? Do I just shut it down?”
My general advice is that obsessing about competition is a waste of time. If there’s competition for your startup then that’s usually a good sign — competition means there’s solid demand for what your business does.
I think a startup CEO is, for the most part, better off spending time obsessing about customers, obsessing about creating sustainable economics, obsessing about creating a high-achieving team. Those are the things that will make or break your operation. Every hour you spend worrying about competitors is an hour less you have available for the things that really matter.
I was at a Super Bowl party last month, noshing and chatting with my friend Richard Draeger. Richard runs four leading grocery stores in Silicon Valley. They are high-end grocery markets — think Whole Foods, but with local soul.
I asked Richard whether he was worried at all that some people are predicting that we’re at the end of an economic cycle and there may be a recession ahead. Richard shrugged his shoulders, took another bite of nosh, and said “I try not to worry about that stuff. I just focus on making my business better”.
I think that’s pretty damn good advice for entrepreneurs everywhere. Focus on the things you can control; focus on making your business better.