Founders usually think that they’re at war with their competitors, and they should despise everything about them. They dismiss competitors’ strategies as foolish and incompetent. In actuality, your competitors are probably quite capable. Plus, your competition has already been through the growing pains of finding and landing new customers. They’ve probably already experimented with the very strategies you want to pursue.
You can learn a lot from your competitors’ activities. In fact, you must learn from your competitors. It is by watching their trial and error that you can accelerate your success and eventually land on top. It’s like NASCAR – the race usually comes down to the last few seconds, when the drafting car uses the car in the lead to build momentum and win the race.
Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Think of your competitors’ strategies as free advice, and stand on their shoulders. Instead of despising the competition, study them. Learn from their activities, keep what’s working and drop what isn’t. If they’re public, read their annual reports. Analyze their marketing campaigns. Reverse engineer their strategies. Use this information to make your own product offering better. Find startup success by standing on the shoulders of your competitors.