Do you know your competition?
Every startup likes to think that they are truly innovative, that there simply isn’t and has never been a company like theirs. At the end of the day however startups need to look at the industry in their sights and really examine which companies are their biggest competitors. This doesn’t just mean knowing what they do well though, it means understanding how people are talking about them, how people interact with them and why they’re liked or disliked.
It’s about understanding the community that you’ll be entering and knowing how interactions within that community happen. We’ve told you before that nobody cares about your startup, at least not like you do. Your competition’s community isn’t going to care how innovative you are, or why you’re special. They’re only going to care what you can do for them.
That’s why understanding your competition is so important. You need to know exactly what they’re doing so that you don’t just mirror them.After all, going head to head is never going to work because they were there first.
In his Startup School episode on Competition, Seth Godin discusses a model for visualizing how your company compares to its competitors he calls the NBA X-Y Axis.
This model can be split with whatever values you think make sense, however the important thing is that when you map out your company and your competition on the graph, you find yourself in opposite corners. In other words, if your competition is very professional and expensive, you would create your product to be a friendlier, cheaper alternative.
It’s about understanding what they’re doing and making sure you’re doing something different.