All too often, CEOs of startups can become hyper-obsessed with the competition. It’s as if running a startup was a game of chess and each competitor’s move could prove fatal to your company. I know about this way of thinking because I’ve been there myself. I’m watching the headlines as though one article is going to suddenly change the game for an entire industry.
The reality is that the success of a startup is barely related to a competitor’s moves. Instead, it’s dependent on each decision we make for our own company. How do I know this? Multiple times I’ve sat idle on an idea for years, watching hundreds of companies created all attempting to tackle the same problem in their own way. Some have been successful, others have not, all have had different approaches. In all instances, it was the company’s decisions, not the competitor’s which determined the outcome.
The paranoid, winner take all mentality, is built on the fear that somebody else is going to go out there and eat your lunch (i.e. take your business from you). It leads companies to raise excess capital. It results in small companies quitting when there’s still plenty of food left to go around. It generates paranoid CEOs.
The reality is that you just need to keep your head down and stay focused. For any small startup the competition is barely relevant.