When first starting out, you have to de-risk your startup by eliminating as many unknowns as early as you can. The way the industry works is one of key unknowns to focus on, as there are often unspoken rules or norms that will heavily influence your strategy. Being aware of these nuances will improve your chances for success and help to minimize course corrections. For example, let’s suppose that you have a new technology that you want to license to industry manufacturers. You then spend six months building the business around a licensing strategy, only to find out that the manufacturers have never licensed a technology before and won’t work with you. Oops. Or, suppose that you notice that a lot of restaurants don’t accept credit cards. You set out to create a robust credit card payment system, only to find out that they like being cash only because of the “tax” benefits.
Industry details fundamentally impact your venture, so learn as much as you can about how your industry works. Talk to suppliers, distributors, industry veterans, competitors, and anyone else in the industry. There are times when innovation is good and times that you should follow the leader.