Why “we don’t have competitors” is a dumb thing to say


There may not be anybody else exactly like you in the market, but if you truly have zero competition I have to question whether you have a market worth pursuing in the first place.

To succeed in nearly any marketplace, you need to do one of two things: Either be better than others in an existing category, or disintermediate an existing category to create a new one.  This includes disintermediating a category where “doing nothing” and/or ignoring the problem is the status quo.

If you build a better mousetrap, invest or create a new and better way of doing something, you may not yet have competition directly in your self-defined “new world” but you’re still competing against the old way of doing things.

You’re addressing and solving a problem.  Either that problem has always existed and you have a new/better way of addressing it, or you’re attacking a problem that nobody else has addressed and that prospective buyers have always taken for granted.  In this case, your competition may very well be inertia, complacency or laziness.  And in many emerging markets, status quo can be one of the most stubborn and difficult competitors of all to overcome.

When you say “we don’t have competitors”, nobody believes you anyway.  Do yourself a favor, curry some credibility, and at minimum go after the lazy way of doing things – or not doing things – in the past that’s ripe for change.