As the weeks have progressed and I continue to learn about startups, my excitement keeps growing.
After reading the article How to Write a Great Business Plan: Competitive Analysis and listening to the How I Built This podcast featuring Whitney Wolfe, the founder of Bumble, I am feeling motivated.
There was a ton I learned from these short pieces, but a few ideas in particular really stuck out that I can use when beginning to develop my start-up.
First, I want to talk about the How I Built This podcast. I thought it was extremely inspiring and Whitney Wolfe is a fantastic role model for women. Now while the entire podcast was uplifting, there were some things she said that completely caught my attention. In the beginning of the podcast she talks about marketing for Tinder and trying to get people excited about the app.
She said: “To be honest, very few people were interested. I think it was really how you positioned it and I learned a lot through that experience because you know one pitch would go one way and you’d say something a little different the next time and it’d go a completely different way. And I really realized it so not so much the what, but how or why you should do this. This is why you need this, instead of what you need.”
It will take time before people become interested in a start-up idea and that’s okay. Thinking about the how or why, instead of the what, can set a business apart from the other. What I took away from this is to focus on why people need a product, and this can determine whether they will remain interested in it and want to keep using it.
Later in the podcast, Wolfe also talks about starting up Bumble and how her company isn’t super worried about competition.
“With the right support, somebody could rebuild any piece of technology, it’s engineering,” she said. “However, you can’t just copy someone’s brand and become them. There has to be authenticity with a brand, there has be true purpose.”
There are two key words that I took from this: authenticity and purpose. What is going to set my business apart from the other? What is the true purpose of my business? How can I make my brand authentic? These are just a few questions I started asking myself while listening to her speak. For my brand to thrive and remain confident within my competition it will need to be authentic and have true purpose. If I am able to fulfill this, it can continue to blossom and I will know that there is a real meaning behind what I am doing.
To do that, I first need to know who my competition is and what they do well — and where they could improve.
In the Inc. article How to Write a Great Business Plan: Competitive Analysis, Jeff Haden writes, “First develop a basic profile of each of your current competitors. For example, if you plan to open an office supply store you may have three competing stores in your market.”
When thinking about my start-up business, my first competitors are each of the teams in my class. My next competitor is any other news outlet in East Lansing. By knowing who my competitors are and making a basic outline of each will help evaluate what their strengths, weaknesses, market strategies, etc., are.
Something else I found useful was when Haden talks about identifying your potential competitors and predicting when that competition may pop up.
“In general terms, if serving your market seems easy, you can safely assume competitors will enter your market,” he wrote. “A good business plan anticipates and accounts for new competitors.”
Thinking about this will help me analyze my competition before they even appear. I need to know who my current competitors are, what market they target, how my company will be different, etc. If I know this, then I will be prepared if competition enters the market and be a step ahead.
Developing a start-up won’t be easy, but knowing the purpose of it, coming up with a plan and knowing the competitors can make it almost effortless.