A surefire way to fall on your face is to lack meaningful differentiation from the competition. A startup that tries to win market share by copying an already established brand is dead on arrival. If you’re creating a new market, differentiation is already built in, but if you’re competing in an existing market then your product has to be unique in a very compelling way. Find a way to carve out a niche and appeal to the slice of the market that isn’t satisfied with current offerings. Your differentiation will help spark distributor interest, get attention in the stores, give the press a reason to talk about you, and ultimately generate sales.
If you aren’t different than the competition, the only way you can compete is on price. A startup competing on price is like a little leaguer going up to bat against Roger Clemens. Startups don’t have the cash reserves or economies of scale to win that fight. And the only way to avoid competing on price is to create differences between you and your competitors that buyers actually care about. Differentiation is essential to premium pricing, so identify meaningful points of difference and make sure they’re loud and clear.