INNOVATION | BUSINESS
Do You Want to Be an Imitator or an Innovator?
There are two types of businesses
Looking at your competition can be a distraction.
Competitor rubber-necking often leads to brands looking like another version of their competition, all the while battling ever-shrinking margins.
Is competing counterproductive?
Possibly. Think about it. Market leaders can replicate what your business does, forcing you to stay on the competition-merry-go-round.
A lot of companies drool over market share, competing for a few percentage points. They willingly engage in a no-win battle — a continuous cycle to one-up each other year after year.
The solution — create an advantage.
Redefine your company. Reinvent your proposition, services, or products to stay ahead of the curve.
This article will discuss two types of company mindsets.
Creating an advantage is what separates you from your competitors. Successful brands do this by innovating — incubating, promoting, and enabling innovation through original thinking.
The choice is simple: do you want to be an imitator or an innovator?
Imitators compete rather than seek ways to gain a strategic advantage from originality.
So, what’s the difference between innovators and imitators? Below are a few distinctions to tell them apart.
Firstly there are the imitators. Those companies that do little more than sell the very same products and services as all the others in their marketplace.
- They compete relentlessly
- Copy others and often negotiate on price — low cost
- Repeat the same patterns — keep doing what they’ve always done
- Devoid of the belief that they can influence the future
- They think they’re too big to fail
- Control their people to repeat much of the same
- They complain about others — competitors and employees
- Confirmation bias is rife
- They see technology as a threat to the status quo
- They collate massive amounts of the wrong data
- And swim around massive amounts of raw data in ignorant bliss
- Rarely plan, they see it as an occupational hazard
- They dread change. They resist change
- They lack the conviction to be significantly different from the competition
- They think how technology can save pennies as opposed to adding value
- They think about how they can use technology to cut their workforce
- Strive for standard operations that garner predictability
- They see problems as a way that their competitors progress
- They don’t see problems as opportunities
Now there are the innovators. These types of companies refuse to compete directly with other market players. Here’s why:
- They seek out better ways of thinking and working
- Cultivate a growth mindset and incubate creativity
- They’re focused on future goals
- Apply new technology to unlock opportunities
- Look to translate data from multiple sources for diverse insights
- They create new trends — a brand differential
- View strategic planning as a value-add activity
- They embrace change and use it to their advantage
- Empower and invest in their people
- Encourage creativity in employees to innovate and solve problems
- They expect incremental failure, seeing it as a roadmap to success
- Integrate strategy and people to create new products and services
- They see problems as the gateway to new opportunities
Innovators not only define markets but also invent new markets.
Don’t get me wrong, cloning another business is not a bad strategy. But being original will be far more valuable in the future.
To recap, here are three takeaways to consider:
№2 — Always aim to be original. True innovation derives from original thought. So have the courage to think differently.
№3 — Be unique. Ali referenced Basecamp’s founders, highlighting that “injecting what’s unique about the way you think into your product is a powerful way to stand out in today’s most cluttered marketplace in history.”
“If you’re successful, people will try to copy what you do. But there’s a great way to protect yourself from copycats:
Make you part of your product or service.”
As an Irishman, I must mention Des Traynor and John Collins from Irish Startup Intercom. According to Ali, “their blog has been their most effective growth channel since the” start. Collins, the editor at Intercom, built “what some consider the most opinionated blog today.” (Mese, 2020)
Who are you? Who do you want to be?