Your Startup Idea Does Not Have to Be Unique

The key to startup success is not so much a unique idea as much as value-added innovation on an existing idea

There's a prevailing myth that to have rousing success, your business startup should be based on a truly unique idea.

The truth is, if you want to increase your odds of failure, start a business around an unprecedented product or service. The history of modern business is littered with the obituaries of companies who were the first to bring a revolutionary product or service to market.

Who, then, makes staggering profits from new concepts? Typically it's the second, third, or fourth company to develop products around a given concept.

Apple was hardly the first company to market a personal computer. Nor the second. Nor the third. But today only the most devoted computer buff is likely to recall the names of their predecessors.

It's Unique Innovation, Not Unique Ideas That Count

As with Apple, what makes for success is not a unique idea, but unique innovation on an existing idea. Apple succeeded because it made unique innovations in how the user engaged its product.

When Apple launched the first MacIntosh, there were other personal computers on the market which were faster, more powerful, and more robust. But none of them engaged the user in a way that closely duplicated the MacIntosh experience.

Amazon did not develop the concept of selling books. It innovated the way in which the customer bought books. Netflix did not create the idea of renting videos. It innovated the way in which the videos were actually delivered.

When looking for an idea for a business startup, therefore, don't worry about finding the right unique idea. For one thing, if an idea is genuinely unique, then there is no proven market for it. And because the concept is so novel, you must devote a tremendous amount of energy and marketing dollars to building awareness of your product and its benefits.

In an established market, by contrast, people already understand the value of your product. Now you can focus your efforts and advertising on helping them see the way in which your innovation makes the product more useful, more convenient, more cost effective, etc.

And because you don't have to expend the resources it takes to introduce a revolutionary concept to the market, you can devote yourself more intently to enhancing the innovation and making improvements to it continuously.

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