Even the Bible says it, in Ecclesiastes 1:9: There is nothing new under the sun.
If you’ve come up with what you believe is one of the best business ideas of all time, chances are that someone else (and maybe a lot of someone elses) has already tried it, is working on it now, or has already failed at it at least once.
So does that mean you should rip up your notes, throw away your business plan and give up? Not a chance. What would have happened if the founders of Burger King, Facebook, Dell, Google, Samsung and Walmart had given up because someone else already had created businesses that resembled their ideas?
Why being second could be better
Yes, you need a good idea. But you need better execution. No one will run your business exactly the way you would. Here are some of the benefits of being second to the party when it comes to the best business ideas.
- Someone else has already done a lot of the market research. If you had a business idea and found that someone else had already put it into action, take heart. The research must have shown that there is a market — a need — for your product or service. Is the business successful? Even better! The market or need is large enough for some healthy competition. Is it a bricks and mortar business? Is there a lot of traffic there? Great! Build your business across the street. Have you ever noticed that wherever McDonald’s goes, a Burger King moves in? Or wherever there’s a CVS pharmacy, a RiteAid or Walgreens is sure to follow?
- Once someone is already successful at the kind of business you’d like to start, it might be easier to get financing. When you’re first to the market with a brand new idea, investors may be a little leery about throwing money at an untried business plan. But if you can prove that your idea has merit, in fact someone else is doing it successfully and turning a profit, normally conservative financial institutions and investors are going to be more comfortable opening the purse strings. Which leads into the next point …
- If someone else is doing it, your idea must be a good one. Use your competitor as a test subject. Buy their product or use their service. What do you like or not like? How could you do it better?
How to succeed without having to win
OK, so you’ve decided to enter the market and give the first guy a run for his money. Now what?
- Learn about effective marketing, or hire someone to do it for you.
- Give the customer something the other guy doesn’t. A bigger serving. Quicker response time. Whatever it is, be consistent and do it better every time.
- Don’t be afraid to stay in second place. A little smaller share of a huge market isn’t so bad. Just ask Yahoo or Bing.
- Is your idea something that you need or want to use? People tend to be more passionate about things they care about. If you care about it, you’ll work harder. If you’ll work harder, you’re more likely to succeed.
Ways you could still win
Still want to try to be first? That’s OK, lots of people do. It’s why the TV show “Shark Tank” is so popular. If you have entrepreneurial spirit, there’s no greater dream than coming up with the best business idea, making it a big success, and becoming rich beyond your wildest dreams.
Here are some ways to tell if you’ve come up with a good idea:
- It solves a problem.
- People you don’t even know say it’s a good idea. And so do people you trust.
- It fills a niche.
- It’s popular at trade and consumer shows.
- It’s simple.
- Its potential customer base is broad. Men and women will want it. People of different ages will want it. People of different income levels will want it … you get the picture.
- No one has done it yet. Yes, chances are someone has. But someone’s got to be first, right? Why can’t that be you?