The other night in the subway I had an idea for a web business that made me physically shake, I was so excited. I went home and researched and found that there around ~9 sites out there today that sort of do what I`m thinking about doing, 3 of them doing it very well and recently getting million in venture funding. Still, I think there`s a market out there for me...
My inspiration are stories like Facebook trumping the MySpace monster,
or Apple vs. Windows, or Twitter challenging Google w/ it`s real-time search, but they`re target market is just about
anyone on the internet, where mine will be a bit smaller.
What do you guys think about getting started in a business where others have deep pockets, dozens of programmers and have been hard at work for the past X years?
Should I keep thinking and try to "invent" the next big thing or go after something I have a feeling about? My fear is a pretty basic one... that I`ll spend a year developing what the competition had out years earlier.
(I think I know the "answer" to this dilemma, but would like to make sure I have the right mindset)
I`m starting a cafe. I certainly wasn`t the first. Do what you want, and put your original spin on it. It`s more important to start a company you`ll enjoy working, than one that`s never been done before. You`re going to do a lot of work even getting started. Do you really want to do all that effort to be just as unhappy as you would be in somebody else`s company? Do what`ll be most likely to make you happy. That`s the only real perk of entrepreneurship - being happy. So, be happy.
Making limitless possibilities much more limited.
"Just doing it," or "going for the passion" is basically platitudes. The fact of the matter is that entering into competition is just that, a process of entering into a complex environment.
Anyone can examine the field of competition. But not everyone can enter that field, despite the government passing laws to make it so! Why not?
Because the main issue is the field itself. I`m 57 years old, and the world could give a crap if I want to compete in the Olympic swimming games. There`s no chance at all that I`d even qualify, much less compete. Unless the government removes all prices, all standards, all measures, and all goals.
Just because I "wish" or "want" or "envision" myself winning a gold medal in the Olympics, doesn`t mean it`s ever going to happen. NOT "all things are possible!" Many things are impossible given the framework of reality, existence, and physics.
So you have to examine the field itself. What defines that field? What are the qualifications for being part of that field? Can you compete in general, simply by qualifying?
The next step is to define your "competitive advantage." What do you have that`s either unique, or that could probably come into play that would give you an edge over your competitors?
For example, small cars get higher gas mileage but they aren`t as comfortable as larger cars. How many people can build a car in the first place? That`s entering the field. How many people are strongly in favor of gas mileage to the sacrifice of comfort? That forms the edge.
If you`re competing against deep-pocket contenders, then you`re going to have to have an edge that doesn`t depend on money. It could be quality, speed, adaptability, or some new modification you could patent.
Craig, I think I`ve been assuming that I could at least do what they`ve done and market it to towns/schools/kids/parents in my area to help build momentum. My gut tells me I could make it a more seamless touchpoint for the users. My last hurdle is coming up with that piece they`re all missing and then there will be nothing holding me back.
If you think about it, customer service is really the process of communicating with your customers, employees, vendors, creditors, and anyone else. Communication...that`s the main thing.
I wonder why it`s so hard for people to get that idea? Unless it`s that we seem to encourage our kids, these days, to communicate as little as possible? What with video games, online games, DVDs, MP3 players, texting, IMing, forums, and every other thing excepting face-to-face talking.
Your points re: communication reminded me of one of the high-level bullet points in page one of my resume: "Strong believer in vision,
adaptability and communication making up the foundation of any successful
As for customer service, I know I heard my grandfather complain about the lack of customer service when I was too young to appreciate his concern. But at this stage of my life, I will ALWAYS pay a premium for someone to treat me as a valued customer. It`s sad that such a service is considered a "premium" but that`s just the way of the world these days, I guess. Up to us to capitalize on it...