There's a common misconception almost every entrepreneur falls victim to at the start of their journey.
It's also the reason lots of people don't end up becoming or trying to become entrepreneurs.
"There's nothing to do, everything has already been done," they say.
I was one of those people for a long time.
In fact, sometimes I still have that lingering feeling in the back of my mind that tells me, "are you sure you want to do this? It's already been done many times before."
That's the misconception - the fact that you can't do what others have already done before you.
It's one of the main reasons I never took interest in entrepreneurship earlier than I did.
I thought that entrepreneurship is only something you venture into when you've reached your 30s, got some real-world experience, and have been able to think of ideas no one has ever thought of before.
Let me break something to you, humans all think on the same wavelength therefore, our ideas are not special.
No one cares about your idea, it all matters how you execute that idea.
Let's take Uber, for example.
There were hundreds of people who probably said something like, 'I wish there's a way to get cabs on-demand,' before Uber was ever invented.
However, one person named Travis Kalanick along with his co-founder Garrett Camp decided to explore that thought a little further than everyone else back in 2009.
That small idea, that small thought, is now the $11B+ company we know today as Uber.
Now let's play a little exercise.
Let's take out our phones and go to the app store.
Since I have an Android, I'm going to head over to the Google Play Store - yes, I confidently and proudly own an Android.
Now, let's type in 'cab app.'
On my phone, there are hundreds of apps like Uber, here are the first few that come up:
- Free Now
Basing my guess off the number of downloads alone, I'd say that all of these businesses above are successful businesses.
However, none of them do anything different to Uber - they mimic the exact same business model.
There is no single piece of innovation that truly differentiates them.
How is this possible? How can this many businesses do the exact same thing and all be successful?
Let's dive into a few of the reasons why you don't need to reinvent the wheel to be successful.
The market size
The first reason why there are successful businesses that mimic Uber is because of the market size.
Let's quickly take a look at Uber's market size.
It's hard to pinpoint an exact figure, however, on their first pitch deck, it said that there are 100s of millions of people who use cars and cabs for public transport.
Uber alone has 75 million active users globally.
For a market this big, it's easy for competitors to come in because there is so much room in the market for other businesses to also be successful.
A lot of markets are no longer a 'winner takes all' type of market.
You're able to piggyback on another company's success when you build a good solution that does what it says.
Currently, Lyft (which I completely forgot about), Uber, and Bolt are the largest cab apps in the world.
None of them do anything differently, however, they're all massive, successful businesses nonetheless.
Each business is able to stay competitive and have its own share in the market.
Another example would be UberEats.
When UberEats began, it was one of the biggest businesses ever.
Not long after, more and more companies started to emerge out of nowhere that replicated this exact business model.
Deliveroo, DoorDash, JustEat.
Now we're even seeing tons of grocery apps like Getir.
There is not a single bit of innovation flowing through any of these businesses, however, they're all widely successful businesses.
Almost a month ago, I started Hawk Prospecting - a B2B prospecting software.
There are a lot of competitors in this space, however, the market for sales and marketing professionals is massive.
Add on top of this that there are many more use cases for a product like this - hiring and recruitment for one, agency owners, etc, you have a business model where a lot of businesses can be successful without needing the whole market.
When you start to realise that competition is less of a bad thing and more of a good thing for you as a new entrepreneur, you'll start to see opportunities everywhere.
Instead of looking for things that have never been done before, you'll start looking for intricate opportunities where things have been tried and tested before.
Successful companies can provide a few benefits for us:
- There's a market for this product
- This product makes money
- They've tested what works and what doesn't
The other day I was at my local supermarket shopping with my mother.
We went through different aisles, and every aisle we walk into, we see nothing but homogenous goods, packaged up slightly differently and left for the consumer to make a purchase decision.
We're at a point in society where people are open to new things.
People are open to giving the unknown a shot.
People are open to trying new things and exploring new options.
With this said, it gives us, the entrepreneurs, a bit of breathing room to do what we do best.
Instead of looking for ways to 'reinvent the wheel,' we now just look for ways to differentiate ourselves.
That's the easy part if you ask me.
Let's take a loaf of bread - how do we differentiate our bread from the other loaves of bread that are available?
we make it bigger, we make it brighter or darker, we add raisins, sesame seeds, flour, we change the packaging color, we change the packaging wording.
Bread and water are two life essentials everyone must eat.
You'd think that people just walk into the aisle and pick up the first thing they see, however, even with these essentials people still pick and choose.
People have choices nowadays and they're happy to explore those choices.
For consumers, they love it.
For entrepreneurs, choice is not a good thing.
The diagram above is how I believe our world works. It works in a series of innovative runs that flatten out towards the end.
I think that we're currently reaching the flat end of our current series.
This is a point when there is no real innovation happening, however, things are just improving or changing at a marginal level.
Eventually, there will be another burst in technology which will start the next series of innovations.
This next burst will lead to flying cars, space travel, medical advancements, AR technology, and virtual reality, and much more.
After dozens of years perhaps, this series will also start to flatten out and we see a repeat of what's happening now.
Not much innovation, just an increase in choices and marginal changes to what's already available on the market.
These series have been going on from the beginning of time.
From when man first discovered food, to clothing, to cooking, to shelter.
Then we start seeing things like shoes, speech, transport, equipment, and so on.
Back to the example with my own SaaS business, Hawk Prospecting, I believe that people who stumble upon Hawk Prospecting will give it a try because the decision is there for them.
This is why marketing is so important today - it's no longer about the best product, it's about the best-known product or the best-marketed product.
P.s. Hawk Prospecting is the best product anyways!
When you're starting a new business, we're usually told to niche down - it's important to find a niche and focus on serving that niche.
This is because smaller niches are often overlooked by larger companies.
For example, Uber is made for any single person or people who want on-demand cab journeys.
However, let's look at a smaller sub-sector of this market.
Let's say you're someone who never uses credit cards - Uber or other apps similar don't cater to this.
You either pay by card, or you can't use the app.
Now what if there was an app where you can choose to pay by cash only?
That is one market need that is probably not currently met.
The reason Bolt is as big as it is, is because the company was founded in a geographical location not supported by Uber.
This gave the founder free rein to grow the company and eventually start competing with Uber and Lyft.
An example that I'm more familiar with is prospecting tools.
I've talked about why I built Hawk Prospecting - but to summarise, I owned a marketing agency and the solution I needed was not clearly available for me.
There were a bunch of issues with current market alternatives, and so I decided to build a solution that I wanted.
Usually, when you're building a product to fit your needs, there's a good chance that it could fit the needs of others too.
The competitors in the space had these problems:
1. Their pricing was too high and not made for any sort of business
2. Their data quality was bad - even the largest competitors had bad reviews for their data
3. The database was small and so people who used the software were only of a specific niche or market segment
4. Current solutions all focused on providing emails and numbers - I couldn't find anything that gave me the bigger picture.
Therefore, Hawk Prospecting was created to house the largest B2B database of over 2.5 Billion+ unique prospects.
Compared to our competitor's $1/prospect pricing, our largest plan only comes down to 24p/prospect.
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