Novelty is overrated in startupville. It's not the only way to achieve great success.
Too many people obsess about whether something is unique enough to fire the imagination of consumers and investors alike. This can create a state of startup atrophy and worse, innovation apathy. Meaning that really great ideas don't actually come to fruition.
Not because they aren't great ideas.
But because those who have them believe that they just aren't 'unicorn enough'.
For many, innovation has become synonymous with 'unique'. And it's a costly and unnecessary mistake, according to Capshare's Jeron Paul in the excellent, well-researched read attached.
Indeed, according to Paul, some of the most successful entrepreneurs have founded businesses that are not at all unique.
I really like Paul's well-reasoned perspective.
And I agree that you don't need to be unique to launch something truly special and successful.
I'm a big fan of looking outside your sector, business model and national borders; of taking inspiration from the best consumer champions in any market around the world; and then taking the time to work out how you can take what's special about them and adapt it to your own ideas and business models.
It's worked for me and for many others in my network.
Definitely don't ever make the mistake of modelling yourself too much on, or comparing yourself too often to, those already in your market.
As Paul's excellent research shows, whether you're starting out or looking to build on what you've already created, there are plenty of opportunities to launch brilliant propositions, which, while innovative for your particular market or audience, may be quite commonplace for others, elsewhere.
So instead of hunting for an elusive unicorn, don't be afraid to be the best kind of copycat: the one who sees the novel and most consumer-desired efforts of others around the world, and who invests the time in working out how those attributes can then be adapted for their own, very different businesses.
That could be all you need to get ahead and succeed in your own market.
Build to your strengths, borrow inspiration and proven techniques from others. Look at why consumers love the top innovators. Start on the basis that you should be able to offer a similarly satisfactory experience. Work out how to make that happen. Do what it takes to get there. It might actually be simpler than you first imagine.
I particularly recommend the first section of Part 2 of Paul's research: 'The assumption that novelty equals success'. Great read.
Coming up with a startup idea that no one else has noticed is daunting. It’s like sifting through a desert of used or bad ideas to suddenly stumble upon an overlooked startup gem hiding underneath all the other ideas. Because of its novelty, this overlooked idea will also have a built-in benefit: zero competition. According to Graham, a novel idea with little to no competition is a key component to startup success. But don’t start pulling your hair out just yet trying to reinvent the wheel with something no one’s ever thought of before. Lots of other gurus feel that industry expertise, execution, competitive advantages, etc., are far more important than novelty. I’m here to challenge the idea of novelty even further.