Why do we NOT focus on the competition?
I was very interested to read about this recent interview with Larry Page from Google: http://www.ceo.com/news_and_insights/larry-page-why-companies-fail/
Highlighted especially is the fact that Google doesn’t really focus on or try to compete with anyone, for good reason. They’re trying to be a unique solution for their particular users and to be the very best and most innovative in the world, not to be “competitive.”
Of course, he’s absolutely right, not only for Google, but for any innovative company.
Here are a couple of real-world examples from what we’re doing inside my current ventures – launching GeoIntelis at R7 Solutions and launching Fund II at VentureSpur. I know that focusing on the competition would have been a useless distraction in both cases.
At R7 Solutions, we’re in the midst of launching the latest version of GeoIntelis. We’re moving from a product that is primarily an enterprise software install to a product that is designed entirely for hosted, SaaS use.
We ignore the competition because the competition is promoting and profiting from what some in our industry have called “paleo-mapping.” They’re pushing a proprietary, client-server environment that requires a six-figure commitment just to get into the game. This is the 800-pound gorilla in our industry. And, of course, mid-sized and smaller enterprises just don’t bother playing that game.
Our job is to smash that monopoly and level the playing field for mid-sized companies that want powerful, enterprise mapping, but can’t afford to build an entire department just to provide it.
Do we focus on the competition? No. We focus on our product, on our service and on our clients. Our competition thinks that clients want features and that they’ll never change to a new product, so their prices are protected. In reality, they’re ignoring the middle market and SME market.
We know our market. Our clients want simplicity, ease-of-use, fast service, flexibility and economical, monthly, all-inclusive per-user flat-fee pricing. They don’t want to think about their mapping and workflow solution. They just want it to be there and they want it to work. That’s what we provide.
So, yes, we ignore the competition and focus on what our client’s want, but aren’t getting anywhere else.
At VentureSpur, we have seen several other local and regional organizations that might consider themselves competitors. We don’t see it that way, and we basically ignore them, except when there are positive opportunities to collaborate.
There are several reasons for this.
For one thing, we’re in the business of identifying, funding and growing early-stage, innovative startups. That’s it, end-to-end.
Our only constituents are our investors and our startup teams. We don’t have any political goals or mandates and we’re not competing for anyone else’s budget. As long as we keep our investors happy, we’re good to go. We’re unique and we like it that way!
For another thing, we see everything we do as complementary to other efforts. There is a place for every player right now.
The market for venture capital investment in our region is wide open. There are too many good deals and not enough capital. We’re not competing for deals: We’re looking for partners in great, under-subscribed deals. We get great value for our dollars, because there’s so little competition! There’s plenty of room for everyone who wants to participate in this market.
So, we don’t think about our competition. We only think about delivering great value to our investors and delivering great services to our startups. If we do that, we’re going to be successful, no matter what the competition does.
As you spend time thinking about your strategy, doing your planning and building your business, don’t spend too much time on the competition. If you’re delivering value to your customers, you’re doing the right thing, all the time. Sure, sometimes you may run the risk of losing a client to a competitor. But if you re-focus on creating additional value, rather than on what your competitors might be doing, you’re going to fix that problem faster, easier and more assuredly than anything else you can possibly do!
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