The Level Playing Field for Entrepreneurs   1 comment

I sense confusion over this topic in entrepreneurs who are often times consumed with the idea that fits within the domain of a large company. The thought of competing with large companies is sometimes intimidating.

So, I’ll try to address this using some hypothetical questions.

Q1: My product idea is big and would challenge some of the largest companies in that space. I’m concerned that during my execution the larger competition will throw loads of money into this and drive me out.

Lets try to get straight to the point from the first one. For a small company it is only good to challenge large companies in their space. However, do question if it is a wishful thought. Is this something big companies have ruled out? Is the market opportunity too small for them? Would they rather not risk investing in this area? Are they waiting for the market? Are they working on it already? The answers to these question might well lead you to still accept this as the business you want to build due to several personal reasons such as; capability, family, experience etc.

Big companies operate very much like a collection of small companies. They will not spend even a dime more then what is necessary to provide the solution into the market — just like your startup. So if you are looking at a small market your dollars are at least as effective as the machine pressed ones from the large companies. If you are able to stretch your dollar more then they can, you’re actually at an advantage over them.

Try this interesting exercise. Look around you at work and question if everything is providing optimum value. Processes, people, strategy, direction. If you see several areas of improvement, note them and help your employer overcome them. If you are not heard, start a company in which you implement your ideas. Who knows, where that can lead you..and this approach can only help your career.

Q2: My product idea needs upfront investment to execute successfully. Once I have everything built the customers will come.

It is likely that your idea is an aggregation of incremental thoughts and not really an innovation. Key recent innovations pass the following criteria:

.) The product is cute and simple i.e. can be presented in a short 1 line sentence.
.) The product applies a fundamentally different approach to solving a problem that the competition does not.
.) The methods applied in preparing the solution is not immediately obvious by looking at or observing the product.
.) The business uncovers either a current hidden market, or a small growing market. While these companies sell into this space, they help grow the market as well.

Now, if your business idea fails any of these tests, keep working on it, eventually your thoughts will lead you somewhere.

Q3: No one wants to talk to me. I’m not from Cisco, IBM, HP, MIT, Harvard, or Stanford. Why?

Everyone, I mean everyone be it Venture Capitalists, Angel Investors, Entrepreneurs, CEOs, or Senior Executives look at all the emails that fall in their mailbox and spend a minimum of 7 seconds on each. They cannot possibly miss any hint from the world that can help them in running their businesses. Now, not being branded actually could help you as most of these guys like to tell stories about their unique connections in the industry, and in their unique methods that attract them to something. Try to give someone you’re talking to just that. Successful communication passes the following criteria:

.) The communication is concise and complete. An email with 4 sentences and 3 words per sentence will receive a response. Cold (or warm) calling with 6 paragraphs of perfectly drafted story will go no where except either in the Trash or put off for reading later.
.) Build up the conversation with who you’re talking to at their pace not yours. Yes, this is sometimes painfully slow for the eager ones in us.
.) Be respectful. Being respectful is a reflection of who you are and where you can go. Remember relationship is always between people. If you can inspire someone’s trust, you’ve won whatever is on offer.

Samir Shaikh

SlabTile Networks
Your Home improvement, simplified!
http://www.slabtile.com

Posted March 2, 2010 by Samir in Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

One response to “The Level Playing Field for Entrepreneurs

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  1. You get a better prospective of how many yards are gained on a play by sitting in the corners than you do sitting directly behind the end zones. Good Domain

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