Q: When I introduce the idea for my business a lot of my friends are quick to ask: “are you sure there is no one else doing this?” In today’s fast and disruptive business world, I think it is very hard to come up with a business idea that is 100% unique, and utilizes a completely new set of technology features. I constantly find myself arguing that it doesn’t matter if someone else also has the same startup or business idea, it’s how you go about executing your business idea that matters.
What are your thoughts on competitors and how put off should I be when I find out another company has a similar product and mission to my startup?
Your friends are trying to help you but you may be asking them to comment on a problem where they have little expertise. Evaluating a new business idea is challenging even for professional investors and firms already in the target market–how many times have new entrants been underestimated or new technologies view as far more promising than they turned out to be. It’s a hard problem.
You are being encouraged to look left and right at potential competition, I would try and walk around the table and look at the situation from your prospect’s perspective.
Perhaps a more important set of of question for B2B are:
- What is your prospect doing now to solve the problem?
- Are they satisfied with their current solution or do they still view this a critical business issue?
- What other solution options are available to them?
- Which of these other options have they also evaluated and rejected and why have they done so?
- Are you providing a capability or solution for what they consider a critical need.
Execution only matters in the context of a particular category of customer with a distinct and identifiable problem or need.
Working to develop new capabilities when it’s not clear who will pay for them may give you the illusion of progress for a while but ultimately won’t let you build a business.
My suggestion is to pay close attention when prospects ask you to explain why your product is superior or at least different in some useful ways from what they are currently using or have available to them.
My question is why are you talking to your friends instead of having serious conversations with prospects? What are your prospects asking for or telling you?