One of the most common things I hear from aspiring entrepreneurs is “Here’s what I’m good at, but there’s someone else already doing that.” Yep, get over it. Here are a couple of variations, and how I think you can get past the idea that the market is monopolized.
Target a niche:
You may not be the first plumber in town. but maybe you’re the first plumber who installs showers in the garage to automatically wash the car each night. Maybe you’re the go-to photographer in town for pet pictures or the only restaurant in town that is 100% vegan. If your slogan is “We do whatever our competitors do, but trying to be a little better.” you need to reconsider your business model. If your slogan is something like “Here’s the one thing we’re great at, and you won’t find anyone else who can do that one thing as well as us.” you’re on the right track. Figure out what may be sustainable in your market: In a town of 10 000 people, statistically, you don’t have enough of a population to create a demand for orange polkadot toilets. Maybe your niche is your small community. If the nearest restaurant is 20 miles away, there may be a market for your restaurant based on pure geographical convenience.
Tweak the wheel:
Imagine a bakery in town makes oversized chocolate chunk cookies (The cookies have chunks of chocolate bars rather than chocolate chips.). Are they the only bakery in the world doing this? No, but they are the only bakery in our town doing this. They didn’t go out and reinvent the wheel – there’s no chemistry magic or exclusive ingredient in their chocolate chip cookie, they just tweaked the wheel.
What can you do to put a new spin on a proven product or service? Add a piece of rubber we call a tire, make it a low profile, make it safe for winter driving, or economical for summer driving – don’t reinvent the wheel, just tweak it. For Fresh Idea Websites it’s offering websites as a service, rather than a one-time product.
Get Started and Focus on your growth:
If you grow faster than the competition that already exists – if you push for more sales, volunteer your time for exposure and make a dent, you’ll get noticed.
2 opposite stories:
I was listening to an aspiring entrepreneur asking my input on his photography business. I asked at what stage he was in launching or preparing to launch and he said he almost had his website complete. Thinking this was odd that I’m a website designer, he’s asking my input, but didn’t ask me to build his website for him, I asked who was doing it for him. He said he had taken an online course on how to code a website, purchased a piece of software to build it, and spent every waking moment of spare time over the past month building it himself, and worked with another friend who took the course to trouble shoot his website. His reasoning was that if he ever needed to make a change to his website, he wanted to know how to do that himself and not rely on someone else for that.
In my attempt to make a point, I asked him if he owned an espresso machine. He said no. I said, well you better go out a buy one, because what if a client wants to go for a coffee to talk about hiring you, but he only drinks espresso? You would want to be sure that the espresso is done properly, so you should be doing that yourself. What if the espresso machine breaks down? Maybe there’s a course to take on how to repair espresso machines. That’s probably something you should know how to do before you start your photography business. (Extreme, I know, but he got the point…)
He had just spent hundreds of dollars and plenty of his own time on something he could have outsourced for a fraction of the cost, while he focussed his time on building a clientele and portfolio so he had something to show for his business. After a month, all he had was a website with nothing on it – no work to show.
I can’t say for sure, but I think his “DIY” approach to his business was a form of justifying procrastination, because there are other photographers in town and he was concerned he wasn’t going to find a way to stand out from the crowd.
I have a friend who worked in sales in the insurance industry. Each time he would call his manager, his manager would end the phone call with “Where’s your next sale coming from?” – not, how well are you tracking your receipts, or do you have any ideas on what colour we should replace the office carpet – nope: “Where’s your next sale coming from?”
If my friend called his manager to vent and said “I had a big sale on the line and some other guy came in $3/month cheaper and I lost the sale.” the response: “That’s ok. You’ll get some more practise closing. Where’s your next sale coming from?” If it was “Wow, just made the sale of my life and the client was so happy!” Manager: “Great! That’s awesome! Where’s your next sale coming from?”
His manager wasn’t being callused and wasn’t solely focussed on the numbers, but he understood that we’re in business to make money, so whether the last outcome was good or bad or neutral, we need to keep growing. The more you grow, the more you’ll get noticed in your market. More people will know your name, and more people will be in your portfolio.