So you have a great business idea, it’s the best idea you’ve ever had, its da bomb, and its gonna rock the world! That’s it – you’re going to be the next Mark Zuckerburg! This idea of a self-propelling swing is going to be the next biggest seller in kids toys. Yes, parents around the world have had enough of pushing swings themselves and would pay for this self-swinging swing!
So you get onto Google Keywords and start looking for how many other people have built and sold this fabulous invention. And alas….none, that’s it… exactly zero.
So instead of this sparking a question in your mind about why nobody has ever done this, you get excited… really excited. Because that means if you act fast enough you can corner the market, first to market is the best place to be isn’t it?
Well, not really. If no one has developed a self-propelling swing it’s because nobody wants one or the technology is not there yet, or any number of reasons. But it’s a definite warning sign for you to re-think your idea.
First Mover vs Fast follower
First to market companies often aren’t the biggest and best, it’s the fast followers who often take the cake. Think of Facebook, it wasn’t the first social network, it was a fast follower after MySpace, Hi5 etc. And Google, they followed after Yahoo, Alta Vista and a number of other search engines. They were both very successful fast followers.
If you are the first to do anything, you have a lot of unproven assumptions riding on your business idea: Is there a market? Will anyone pay for what I have to offer? Can I reach my audience with the right message? Will my distribution channels reach the right people? Will the technology today support my brilliant idea? Can I find the resources I need to help me get this off the ground? These are all huge risks that you would need to prove first. And that is hard, very hard.
Niche, niche, niche
By taking an existing idea and finding a niche you can serve well, or differentiating in some way is a much less risky way of starting a business. If you are entering a defined market, look for a niche you can serve well. Look for gaps that haven’t yet been filled. Find out what those customers are missing.
Don’t reinvent the wheel, rather make it a colourful one!
Tell me below what you’ve found about new products vs. existing products. I’d love to hear.