How to Stay Ahead of the Competition?
As an entrepreneur you usually go through a cycle that begins with an observation which turns into an initial idea and if you are lucky enough this idea can be turned into a business model. But, as you start building the business, your mind automatically goes into what I would call the “competitor mentality” mode. When this mode is on, you constantly map the ecosystem for direct and potential indirect competitors offering similar or substitute products and this naturally places an immense amount of pressure on you to stay ahead of the competition in terms of product offerings and marketing maneuvers.
How you respond to this pressure will ultimately determine your startup’s long term profitability and market expansion. Well, from what I have seen so far, companies in the market often respond in one of two ways. If you are passionate about the idea, quite knowledgeable about the ins and outs of your industry and know deep down that you are brining something new to the table, then your response will most likely be if everyone is going right, I’m going left.
However, if you are in it for the prestige and haven’t done your homework properly then you will most likely resort to the second response which includes copying and going into the market with the raw ideas of other market players. Let me be fully honest with you, this strategy will definitely cause a number of sparks on the radar, maybe even get you a few moments of fame on social media and that’s about it. Why?
Because when you copy a strategy, you are basically not introducing anything new to the market; and when you execute another player’s raw idea, you need to realize that ideas are closely connected to their founder’s vision, and a single idea separated from its vision is exactly like borrowing the tennis racket of renowned American professional tennis player Serena Williams, yes you might take a few swings, take selfies and tell the entire world on social media but, it won’t score you any goals because you borrowed the racket and not Serena’s arm.
Don’t worry, there is always a different way of doing things you just need to adopt the right mentality. From my humble observations, I noticed that the most powerful business deals and models are the ones that create a win-win situation that is opting for a partnership. Take the Uber model for example, it actually creates a win-win-win situation by enabling users with private cars to earn a side income being an Uber partner (Yes, Uber actually calls them partners) (that’s a win); providing convenient, on-demand and affordable rides to customers like you and me (that’s another win), while managing to make a profit for the company that takes 20% of the ride’s cost (that’s a business win).
No wonder, this model which is called the sharing economy took over the world in no time making Uber a global player in the on-demand transportation industry. To sum it up, I truly believe that if you look closely, you will notice that each company has a different way of doing things giving it an edge somewhere (whether that’s a unique marketing strategy, a strong team or an attractive product offering). Thus, instead of stealing the spotlight for a while creating a win-lose situation; why not share the spotlight, expand your user base, and make more money?!