3 Strategies For Dealing With Startup Competition

3 Strategies For Dealing With Startup Competition

If you’ve started a company (or are growing a business) and every time you share your business idea with other people, they start asking “oh, so you’re like [X] company?”, then you have competition.

You don’t decide who your competition is, your customers do by their actions and choices.

So let’s talk about the idea of competition and how to deal with it.

When I started Clarity (which is a marketplace for business advice), right out of the gates, I started getting emails from people asking, “Have you heard of this company?” or sending me links to newly launched startups.

I saved a list of everyone that they mentioned – and 3 years later – I have an Evernote file with 185 companies who were apparently “in the space.” Companies with similar ideas, features or business models.

What did I do with this list?

Nothing. I politely thanked them but never really spent any time trying to understand who they were.

Doing so would’ve been a distraction.

Here’s why.

The Key To Dealing With Competition Is Survival

I don’t know if you know this, but 98% of businesses fail in the first five years.

So here’s a crazy idea, if you do nothing but survive over the next 5 years, you will do better than 98% of those people.

Every year I check out that list of 185 “competitors.” 60% are already dead and a lot of them have pivoted into other businesses.

Even huge companies shutdown, or turn off competing services.

Just look at Google Helpouts, which supposedly competed against my startup Clarity, after 2 years they shutdown.

So it just really doesn’t matter.

Most of your companies are going to die, so get into a “don’t die preservation mode.”

It may sound crazy, but think about it! If you can just run more efficiently and be smarter about your business you will be better than 98% of the other businesses.

Try not to do things that will cause you to run into a major roadblock or cause a fatality in your business in regards to it progressing onwards.

The other thing I notice when it comes to competition is that when people see their competitors do “x, y, or z,” they think, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got to jump quick and do that!”
Here’s what I want to teach you guys:

Most of your competitors don’t know any more than you do about what’s going to work!
They are just trying things. Trust me, because I am that guy!

When people saw what we were doing at Clarity, they were like, “Oh my gosh, that’s such a brilliant idea, I’ve got to do the same thing!” I didn’t even know if it was going to work! I just did it because strategically, when I thought through the things we needed to work on, it’s what made sense.

At the end of the day, just because somebody announces something, doesn’t mean that it’s a smart thing, that it’s going to work or that you should be copying it.

Spend More Time On Your Customers Than Thinking About Competition
The suggestion that I would give instead is to just talk to your customers. Have a crazy, maniacal focus on interacting with your customers.

I do this thing called “smile and dial.” Every Thursday I go through and to talk to 5 or 6 new customers who have signed up for our product. I’ve been doing this for every company I have ever started.

The best feedback I am going to get is not from watching what my competitors are doing, it’s by actually talking to my customers!

Focus On The Things You Can Control, Like Your Team

The third thing I am going to suggest is to continuously focus on building an amazing team.

I believe that your first 12 employees will dictate the success of your business.
And that has nothing to do with your competitor! It’s something that you can control.

Building an amazing team is something that every day you can decide, we need to hire somebody in this area that we are missing a bit of capacity. And that is something that you can do.

Focusing on your competitor is just such a waste of energy and time because it really doesn’t matter. There’s nothing you can do to control what they do.

You can really just focus on your customers, your team and not going out of business. If you do those things, you will have success.

I hope you found these suggestions to be useful. I’d love to hear from you below.

Please leave a comment with the biggest take away for you. If you’ve ever had competition and had to deal with it, let me know how that worked out!

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