I’m sure it’s happened to you; you have a great idea and get all excited only to find out someone else is doing exactly the same thing. It’s depressing, I know, your dreams of billions are shattered and your life seems duller. But, is the fact that someone else is doing something similar to what you want to do reason enough to abandon your idea?
The answer is, it depends. There are a number of great rivalries in the world where two companies do very similar things yet both seem to be doing very well. Here’s a very short list (you may have heard of a few of these):
- Uber vs Hailo
- McDonalds vs Wendy’s
- Starbucks vs Costa
- Apple vs Microsoft
These companies have clearly defined their products and focussed on building their product their way and not worrying too much about the competition and they have profited from this. The key here is to understand your unique selling proposition, your USP, and following through on that. Facebook became the dominant social media outlet when Myspace seemed to be unreachable. Facebook’s core feature set was almost identical to that of Myspace but the focus of doing things they way they wanted to do it and not trying to just replicate what Myspace was doing helped them to build a platform that achieved their vision. And the users followed.
Conversely, there are instances where abandoning an idea is the smartest thing that one can do. There needs to be an honest appraisal of your idea and how it will fit into the existing ecosystem. Here are some questions to ask:
- How big is the market? Are their enough customers to support your product and those of your competitors?
- How strong is the market? Will it grow? How fast is it growing?
- How much of the market does your competition currently own?
- How well is your competitor doing?
- Is your idea sufficiently different to attract customers?
There are 7 billion people on the planet and everyone has ideas, so expect some collision in ideas and don’t be discouraged just because someone else is thinking along the same lines.