Surprise! You have competition.
These competitors have raised more funding, hired larger teams, or been around longer than you. Yet, you aren’t afraid for some reason. You stepped out into the fray without hesitation.
How do you start crushing your competition?
If you’re one of everyone who has competition, you’re in luck! I’m going to give you the secrets to crushing your competitors. So get your pen and paper out, life is about to get simple (but not easy) for you.
You need an obsession with your product. To the point that it’s disgusting. You can’t stop thinking about it. You eat, sleep, and breathe the product. It’s sad. Those times you space out in the middle of conversations because you’re thinking about new features is not a curse, it’s a blessing. People find it annoying, but you can’t help it.
This behavior isn’t healthy, but you’re competitors likely don’t have this same obsession. While they would rather sleep well at night and have a healthy work-life balance, you gave that all up the day you started your company. It wasn’t a choice, your product now consumes you.
Competitor Lesson 1: If you want to beat your competition, you need an unhealthy obsession with your product.
You need to know your team inside and out. The advantage goes to the team that can name each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. It shouldn’t be the first time you have developed products together. A question shouldn’t need an email, it should be a call over the shoulder to your co-founder. This reduces communication time from hours or even days, to seconds.
Here’s how we do it
Most of us have been working together for nearly 8 years. Not only have we known each other for nearly a decade, but we all still live together. We eat together. We work in the same small room in the house. That’s right, every one of us works from our tiny office (no, not the mythical garage) in our tiny house. Our computers are just feet apart, so every issue is resolved instantly. It’s rare for us to have issues that take longer than 10 minutes to resolve unless we are asleep. Even then, we’re pretty good at sleep-coding.
Your competitors likely don’t have this same team structure. A tight nit team is your advantage, so use it. The competitor that has a dozen part time employees spread across the world isn’t your concern, it’s the 4 guys in a room smashing code together into the wee hours of the night. The team is small, but the decisions are quick and deliberate. It’s not uncommon for your competitors to turn issues that should be resolved in seconds to problems that get resolved the next day or even the next week. This communication break down results in a high overhead which makes progress slow.
Competitor Lesson 2: If you want to beat your competition, build a team that works better together.
Funding doesn’t mean anything if you don’t know what to do with it. Some of your competitors have millions of dollars in funding. They are throwing everything they have at these problems and they aren’t getting far. Forcing themselves into the market, even though nobody is using their solution. The problem once again stems from the product. They don’t have conviction for their idea. They don’t have a vision for the world which is better than it is today. Using their product just leads to a string of “why” questions baffling the user. They never took the time to understand what the user actually cares about or what they want to be able to do.
You can get further with $0 in funding than most teams can with over $1M in funding. The way you accomplish this is simple. Cut out every ounce of fluff. You need to find awesome people who believe in your vision, all of your marketing should be free, and the development should be done by your own team.
Competitor Lesson 3: If you want to beat your competition, solve your problems with ingenuity, not money.
Users don’t care about your problems. That’s the harsh truth. You don’t have the freedom to use the words “we will fix it later”. You fix it now. When you’re product isn’t working, you are working. Once the issue is resolved, you can have your break, but not before that time.
In order to improve your connection with users, there needs to be a constant dialogue. Open up as many channels as possible for users to connect with you. Ensure you connect with each group on a consistent basis. Instead of 2 or 3 conversations with users every day, you should be having 10 to 20. Immerse yourself in their prospective and completely understand where they are coming from. These conversations will guide you through the tough decisions that need to be navigated on a daily basis. If you ever have doubts about why you may be getting crushed by your competition, look no further than your attitude when communicating with users.
Competitor Lesson 4: If you want to beat your competition, become a slave to your users.
If you want to beat your competition:
- you need an unhealthy obsession with your product.
- build a team that works better together.
- solve your problems with ingenuity, not money.
- become a slave to your users.
You might be looking at this list of secrets and be thinking things like “this sounds miserable” and “I didn’t sign up to be a slave to our users”. Or, “Wait, I’m supposed to live with my team??”
In all honesty, you’re right. It would be miserable, if you don’t love what you’re doing. Becoming a servant to your users doesn’t happen out of desire, it happens naturally when you prioritize the user experience over all else.
You don’t need to do these things!
You are welcome to do none of the above. You can simply let your competitors steam roll you because they have more funding, experience, or any other excuse. Or you can prepare for battle. You can turn your weaknesses into strengths. You can do the things others are simply unable, unwilling, or too afraid to do.
When the enemy is at your gates will you be wishing you had done more? Or will you stride confidently into battle, knowing that what appear to be their advantages actually make them soft, slow, and complacent.
Money doesn’t talk, a good product does.
You don’t need money to start building your vision for the future. You can get further with no money than many of your competitors can reach with millions of dollars. The key is intense and obsessive focus. Focusing on the product and the users. Everything else is secondary. The marketing is secondary, the partnerships are secondary, and the money is secondary. Create an awesome product.