Friday, October 03, 2008

Being First Is Overrated

Sooner or later, almost all my customers have the same realization: their completely unique idea, isn't. Someone has invariably beaten them to launch of their idea.

While I've written about this topic before, I really like David Mullings approach to it. He's written up an excellent blog post that reminding me just how frequently being first is't the key to being the best.

David picked up on one classification of entrepreneurs, which breaks them down into 3 types: Inventors, Innovators and Introducers. For our purposes, it's the inventor which is most interesting. As he explains, the inventor is the entrepreneur that develops a completely novel idea or thing. He then goes on to compare some classic inventors versus the now market leader. Here's a bit of the list:

  • Computer mouse - Xerox (not Logitech)
  • DOS - IBM (not Microsoft)
  • Cellular phone - Motorola (who is hurting and wants to sell that part)
  • Portable music player - Sony (now Apple runs the show)
  • Commercial Word Processing software - WordPerfect (not Microsoft WORD)

What a powerful reminder that being first doesn't guarantee you'll be the market leader. In fact, letting another company trip over all the landmines out there in a new business field, may in fact be the smarter approach to take.

Regardless of whether you're first to tackle an idea, or 1000th, I think the answer is still the same: innovate and you'll win.

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