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You Probably Have Not Discovered Fire! But If You Have, Your Work Has Just Begun!

small-business-blogs-Entrepreneur-inventing-fireBusiness Master QuickTip - Product Development

All too often I have encountered new entrepreneurs who tell me that their product is so unique that it has no competition and riches are just around the corner. As I explain to them, I believe fire has already been discovered (that's the last great invention that really had no precedent or competition)!

Now, there have certainly been "first movers" in every market space, but they are few and far between. And, typically, they are absolutely "right place, right time," kinds of businesses. First movers, who fit this classification in the last 10-15 years include Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (although it still remains to be seen whether there is really a long-term revenue model there) just to name a few by example.

In the main, if you have a product or service that nobody's succeeded in bringing to market before, it, usually, doesn't mean that you're smarter or that nobody else has tried. I always tell entrepreneurs that somewhere out there are some much smarter guys in a garage who are doing what you're doing...only better and cheaper.

Most often it means that you haven't really done your homework. So, if you think you have such a product, your work has just begun (and you thought developing the product was the hard part). The first thing you need to do is research the market ...and then research some more, for past or present similar products/services and how the need you fulfill with your "breakthrough product" is being addressed today. And you can bet somebody did it before and probably failed. "Go to school on them" and find out why. Determine how your implementation of the idea is or can be significantly better than what was done in the past, or how you will fulfill the existing need better and cheaper.

Usually, you'll find that either the market need simply wasn't there, the market wasn't ready for the innovative product or most probably that the guys who developed it ran out of money trying to educate the market on how much they needed the product/service. Most of the time, there is a need that is being fulfilled in a different way. Years ago I had my first business in the early days of ATMs. People always needed access to their money and to transact basic banking business, but had grown used to the fact that they could only do it at their bank between 9 and 3 every weekday. The industry took more than fifteen years to develop, with the biggest obstacle the banks themselves, unwilling to change. Many of the original ATM manufacturers simply left the business or went out of business waiting for the market to unfold. And even today, with ATMs ubiquitous, and having always had the capability to perform virtually all basic transactions that were done at a teller window, they are still mostly cash machines.

So if you think you've "discovered fire," think again. Your work has just begun if your "fire" will ever see the light of day and have a chance at being successful. Research, stay open-minded (learn from your research) and think humbly (remember those real smart guys in the garage).

Master Yoda knows these things. His job it is. May success be with you!


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