So how much should you look at your direct competitors and the overal ecosystem? Personally, this is something that drives me a little crazy. I can go nuts on it.
I usually set up the classic Google Alerts on all my direct competitors, make sure I check their site every couple of days to see if there’s any tweak or redesign, follow their blog posts etc. Well… Sometimes, I even go deeper and start monitoring the new connections on LinkedIn that their main sales guy is making or check their twitter feed. Borderline creepy right?
For many years, I strongly believed that staying on top of that was the right strategy. I did a little bit of thinking on that subject over the last few weeks and realize that this was extremely intoxicating and paralyzing. There’s something really stressing about it – it always looks like the competition is going faster than you, that they’re better funded, that they have better advisors, better website, better clients and convos… It really plays into your own internal fears as a startup founder.
I found 3 ways to get out of that panicky feeling:
1. Remember what makes your product or your strategy so awesome. There’s a couple of key differentiators in your favor between you and your competitors. If not, maybe you’re better funded, have better advisors, are getting smarter about specific verticals where you’re crushing it.
2. Talk to your co-founder, or your confident and rationalize: I found that really useful to go back to reality so to speak. Detail with him/her what the competition is pushing out and come up together with why you should stick to your current strategy (or maybe tweak?).
3. Go see your clients, go talk to your sale guys or your customer support team and listen, make sure you’re still executing well, that you don’t lose clients to that new offering from the competition, that you’re still acquiring new ones etc.
And then finally, just breathe… Being too close will usually push you to mimic competitors instead of innovating.