Stop Worrying About Your Competition.
Do These 3 Things Instead.
When you’re building a startup, it can be tempting to worry about competitors — especially the big companies running your industry.
But you have to focus on what you can control: moving quickly and looking ahead.
Why? Because worrying about competition is an unnecessary distraction and makes you paranoid for no good reason.
THINK OF BLOCKBUSTER
If you ask a kid today what Blockbuster is, you’ll get a blank stare.
But most of us remember their stores vividly. And we remember how fast they became empty storefronts when Netflix put them out of business.
Interestingly, Blockbuster had the internal capability and supply chain to compete with Netflix. For a short while, they had success attempting to innovate. But their real estate crushed them in the end. All of their stores were filled with DVDs — they couldn’t unwind fast enough to free up the cash they needed to invest in other areas.
Speed did them in.
And honestly, you’re too small for them to care. Startups tend to have an over-exaggerated sense of self-importance, but don’t fall into that trap.
Large companies have businesses to run — big ones and good ones despite their lagging behavior — and worrying about a flea-sized startup is not top of mind. Trust me on this.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you, do these three things:
SPEND TIME ON RESEARCH
Startups knock each other off at an alarming rate. Any successful startup is going to attract copycats — it’s inevitable. Honestly, I don’t worry about this too much, because I spend a lot of time and money upfront on research. Often, weaker players don’t.
And you can do all the right research on your own. You don’t need a lot of paid data or advice to figure out the competitive situation in a particular industry.
KEEP AN EYE ON OTHER STARTUPS
There’s a reason large businesses haven’t already tried your idea.
With my first startup, Silvercar, I discovered the rental car industry couldn’t do what we were doing. Their business model was too complex. Organizational reasons stood in the way of innovation, and those reasons had nothing to do with the quality of our product.
Established competitors are more likely to write you a check for your company, because their CEOs realize they’re not set up to knock off startups.
If you’re competent — and know the big companies’ capabilities and likely response — you’re fine. You don’t need to think about them anymore.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL
Instead, focus on quality and execution. If you have a higher-quality measure than the next guy, you’ll do better than him.
You don’t have time to constantly think about who’s in the rearview. Work on what will set you apart.
So, start looking ahead instead of worrying about your competition. You know you have a great idea large competitors can’t push you out of.
Go out, execute, and turn them into the next Blockbuster