Competitive Research for Startups

September 7, 2009

Competitive research is an essential early task in launching any startup. This article will tell you how to do it.

You’ll learn about five web sites that are your best source of competitive insight about new web startups. Chances are, you’ll want to bookmark these sites and add them to your collection of essential resources. But first, let’s consider why competitive research is important to any startup.

Why Do Competitive Research?

Billboard in Cienfuegos, Cuba

Billboard in Cienfuegos, Cuba (credit: Alice Kehoe)

Conventional wisdom suggests that you should do competitive research for two reasons. First, as part of your business plan, to show your investors you’ve considered risks of competition and are justified in anticipating success. Second, by looking at what others are doing, you’ll refine your mission, your market positioning, and your product’s feature set. But there’s a third reason to do competitive research. One that’s more important than the others. A reason that is so important, you must do it as early as possible in your planning.

If you’re going to launch a new business, you need to find similar established businesses. Here’s why.

If you can find an existing business that others know about, it’ll be easier for others to grasp your idea without seeing it fully deployed. Whether investors, business partners, or anyone else, it’s easier to explain what you want to do if you’ve got a common reference point. Are you launching an online auction site for the produce industry? Tell them, “It’s eBay for truckloads of tomatoes.” Find a way to define your objective by describing it in contrast to others.

The best reason for doing competitive research is to make it easier to describe your project to other people.

Read the full article here:
Competitive Research for Startups

The full article (with detailed instructions and links) has been moved from this blog to my web site.

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What To Do When There’s No Venture Capital

January 13, 2009

It’s agreed. We’re in the biggest economic downturn we’ve ever seen. So why would anyone want to launch a startup?

1937 photo by Dorothea Lange

1937 photo by Dorothea Lange

Maybe because a downturn is the best time to launch a startup (see “6 Reasons Why This Economy Is Good For Startups”). Or maybe, “Why not?”, because what else are you doing that’s truly worthwhile? Or maybe, finally, because startups are the only way to create prosperity when established businesses are failing.

Whatever your motivation to launch, some of the rules for success just changed (along with everything else that got broken with the collapse of 2008).

(read more) What To Do When There’s No Venture Capital


Startup Mistakes: The Partnership Gone Sour

October 8, 2008

What makes a startup fail? I’ve been collecting startup horror stories, hoping to share some lessons learned.

This week brought a story with three classic elements of a startup “tale from the crypt:” technology, money, and people. This time it was technology (with attendant uncertainty and doubt), money (lack of it), and people (the dark side: their personalities). I hesitate to tell this chilling tale because it’s not over (and may yet have a positive outcome). But hearing it may save readers from a similar fate.

(read more) The Partnership Gone Sour