Screw your competition. Build the better product.
At a conference recently I told the crowd, “Don’t be afraid to give away your ideas. No one is going to steal them.” A few people asked me to elaborate on that, so I said, “You’re not going to make money having one of the only idea. You’ll make money by executing the most elegant and harmless and interesting version of the idea, not by being the only one to try.”
Truthfully, I was shocked at how many people thanked me for saying this and encouraging them to be bold with their ideas, despite possible “competition”. I want to expand some more on what I mean by this, and what competition really means to a company, and why CoSupport isn’t afraid of any competition.
CoSupport doesn’t really have a lot of competition in the support market, but there are a few other companies out there who do something like what we do. I won’t say exactly what we do, but something like it, and even that is enough to make it feel like we have competitors. After we launched, we saw a few companies pop up promising to do something like what we do cheaper, faster, etc, and I don’t mind. It’s wonderful to have competition. If you don’t, it’s impossible that what you’re building is even relevant to the market.
I keep an eye on what other people are doing, but I’m not at all afraid of them or their business. Even if they position themselves to be “just like” CoSupport, or claim to be cheaper or more scalable, it doesn’t frighten or intimidate me. I’m pretty confident (as is everyone at CoSupport) that what we’re building and ultimately selling is the best version out there – we have the most experience, the most knowledge of the industry, the most passion for customer support and the greatest customers already. Other companies may offer outsourced support, but it’s not ever going to rival what CoSupport offers.
Is it egotistical to say this? Yes and no. For one, a little ego is fine for everyone. Without ego, none of our great crazy ideas would ever see the light of day. Without ego, no one would ever take a risk to build anything. But confidence in your product goes far beyond being an asshole about it – it shows you and everyone around you that you have something to be confident about: a stellar product that is worth every dime you sell it for. When you have an idea and other people copy you, they’re not copying your skill or your experience or your brand or whatever. They’re just creating a cheaper alternative that ultimately is just cheap. Let them do it, and keep your focus on building the better version. There’s nothing egotistical about quietly creating a superior product.
Here’s an example that sticks with me daily: I am a bit obsessed with iPad adventure games. The kind where you have to follow a story to an end, completing little challenges along the way. There’s a lot of these games out there, and one company in particular (MumboJumbo) makes *the best* of this kind. But their games are expensive, take up a ton of space, and can sometimes be too complicated to finish without a little help.
Recently I saw a “just like this game” recommendation, and I tried a $.99 version from another company. It downloaded quick, ate up none of my space, and was a total shit game. I mean, shit game. I was done with it in 15 minutes and totally disappointed, and ended up just downloading a better game from MumboJumbo I should have played instead.
Yes, this other game company is competing with MumboJumbo to create the same type of game, even copying some of their app store text and keywords! But is the actual game they sell for much much cheaper better than the one made by the real experts in their field? No, it’s not. It’s cheaper. It’s clunkier. It doesn’t come with the brand recognition of a great game company. And it’s not made by people experienced enough in the field to build the best version of the game.
So, have competition. Screw the competition and stop thinking about it so much. Just go build the better product.