Perhaps entrepreneurs should stop asking themselves “What must I do and how many resources must I bring to bear to achieve a Pioneer vs. a Follower persona in order to gain a first to market advantage?” when the better question would be “Can I actually build a product consumers want to buy, at a price they are willing to pay, with a cost structure that allows me to make a reasonable profit, producing a product that is above average quality to ensure customer satisfaction so I can build a brand and create loyal customers who could become active brand ambassadors that enhance my company’s prospects for future growth and lay a foundation where new products we introduce will be welcomed by the market?”
That’s quite a mouthful but it provides an actionable roadmap that is a lot more likely to get entrepreneurs to the crossroads of Success and Sustainability than to the corner of First and What Was I Thinking?
Now that you know that the real truth is about 180 degrees different from its mythical roots, why does this belief still persist? And why is so much money being squandered by so many people, so quickly in pursuit of an illusion?
Maybe it’s because VC money is still plentiful even though there are rumblings that greater favoritism is going to be given to those companies that have a greater chance of being profitable in the near term rather those who focus on growth at any cost. I predict most of those companies will be in for a great shock when the big printing press in Silicon Valley gets shut down.
If A Market Is Big Enough For A Business, It’s Probably Big Enough For At Least A Few Competitors
The US Gross Domestic Product this year will be in excess of $17,000,000,000,000. Yes, that’s 17 followed by 12 zeros. Surely, if a product has any merit at all, there’s room for more than one company to fill the demand. So what’s the hurry? Is it really a badge of honor to say you’re the first (like Friendster?) or the most successful like Facebook? As an entrepreneur, would you prefer to be Goto or Google?
The Problem With Many Of Today’s Entrepreneurs And Their Financial Backers Is That They Either Forgot Or Never Bothered To Learn That A Business Can’t Be Sustainable If It Can’t Be Profitable
You may recall from childhood fables that the tortoise beat the hare. The hare was undoubtedly faster but he expended all his energy (dollars) and chose to rest while the tortoise’s slow and steady pace eventually enabled him to cross the finish line first.
Money And Resources Are Finite… Learn To Respect Their Scarcity
It’s not healthy, and by that I mean profitable, to be so blinded by the light that comes off all those shiny new objects that you fail to understand that while you’re burning through millions of dollars in order to be first, your competitors are waiting, watching and learning from your (expensive) mistakes enabling them to spend far less to produce products that are far superior.
In My Humble Opinion Entrepreneurs For All Their Innovation And Bluster Are Basically Insecure And Paranoid… And That’s Generally A Good Thing
They come up with what they believe to be some unique and valuable idea but they’re so afraid to discuss it for fear that someone will “steal their idea” and that person will then earn the title of “Pioneer” because they are first to market. I say let them have it. Being first is not a mantel of success… it’s more like a shroud of death that first to market entrepreneurs will use to wrap the corpse of their business in.