Get First Mover Advantage

Get First Mover Advantage

All songs are improvised in the beginning. The musicians who create and perform this original content generally earn more than imitators do.

Similarly, those who develop a company or invent an industry are likely to be paid more for a longer duration than those who are copying them. Certainly, you could successfully copy other people in business and improve on their products and services. But, to earn even more, it’s better to be the first to operate within your niche and then to remain the best.

If possible, you should be the first player to enter your industry; the first to invent the products, services, and processes that make your industry tick; the first person with access to the best employees; and the first with the best marketing ideas.

Unfortunately, you can’t have it all. Yet, as long as you are trying to get it all, you are on the right path. So go for it! Try to be first to enter new markets or niches.

You will move ahead if you are operating on par with your competitors. But if you can operate better than par overall AND are among the first to enter your markets, then you are more likely to capture a compounding “sustainable long-term advantage.”

Like your own company, your competitors are also always moving either forward towards profitability or backwards towards financial loss. To the extent that your operations are similar, you will advance and decline at roughly the same rate as the competition. That’s why you want to start first in your market and continuously push further ahead. Being first to market requires accessing and understanding information and then applying what you have learned quickly in many small, calculated risk trials.

Make sure that you are researching every angle relevant to your industry and operation. This includes reading every trade magazine, attending most of the conferences, regularly calling on all the major industry players to establish relationships, and so on. It only makes sense for you to have something to offer in return to those who share resources and information with you.

If you start out with sound business theory having thoroughly studied your market, your tests will have a much higher chance of positive results, indicative of a positive market opportunity. If you are paying attention to the trends in your industry of choice, you should know as much as anyone who has done similar preparation and more than anyone who has done less.

While it is usually better to be involved in the beginning of an industry’s development, it isn’t possible or preferable in every case. But you can still enter almost any small, mature industry if you want or a niche area that is surrounding it. Hesitation can be overcome with ample research, planning, and self-confidence.

It is great if you are fortunate enough to be the first person to think of a good business idea; although, you can’t prove its worthiness without testing it. There is a certain element of risk involved due to the cost and time spent experimenting which can be avoided by borrowing the best ideas already in the public domain…and those ‘best’ ideas are all around you.

If you study what others are doing, you can discover a great business area that interests you and is generally profitable. Apply that same model to another geographic market when possible since you are better off not trying to beat your competitors at their own game and in their own market until you are very polished.

Once you have stabilized this model in the new market by breaking even or matching ordinary industry profit levels, you can then begin to improve each of the parts independently while continuing to take the best new ideas from across your industry.

You can also accidentally be too early to a market if you are the inventor of the product or market niche, particularly if patents or safe secrets do not protect you. In this case, there might not be enough paying customers yet, or at least not enough to make a profit.

If your research uncovers a promising long-term business concept, then aggressive competitors could invest heavily in the market and potentially “blindside” you, creating a new industry paradigm. Conversely, you could persistently use your best ideas to get financing, secure attorneys, employees, patents, and so on to get the head start they have neglected.

Another type of business structure derived in Japan is called keiretsu. A keiretsu, sometimes called an “incubator” or “catalyst” in the US, is loosely translated as a family of affiliates or a business group with overlapping stakeholders and interests.

In a keiretsu, affiliate companies have purposely planned and created interlocking technologies, directorships, shareholders, and joint business ventures. The business that is carried out within a keiretsu group is not exclusive, yet they will generally look internally for services and human resources before considering outside resources—a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” system, or a Web 2.0 style “old boys club,” with girls, too.

A keiretsu group’s synergy delivers extra power and profits because the businesses proactively work together towards mutual success. The author of this guide is part of a loosely formed keiretsu where resources, talent, and technology are often shared to deliver innovative offerings across the Internet. In our case, companies such as Phone.com, SEO.com, Graphics.net, Skateboards.com, X3O, BrowserMedia, Yield Software and others often work closely together in a compatible long-term manner. Kleiner Perkins in Silicon Valley is famously profitable for its style of technology investment keiretsu.

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