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Thanks all. I think perhaps my initial problem is the lack of confidence. To use another example, take the restaurant business. I, in my example, am good at front of house, serving the customers, and so on. And let’s say I want to set up a restaurant: sure that experience is useful but the whole business is reliant not on me, but the chefs I hire. And because I’m no chef, my confidence is low that I can sufficiently delegate and ensure a high quality meal.

After I read your replies, I realise my issue isn’t with the competitors but my lack of confidence and the way I’ve been thinking of myself within my business. I see myself as more of a ‘waiter’ than the ‘restaurant manager’ in terms of experience. But if I take the attitude that actually no, I’m the manager, then perhaps I might feel more confident taking on the idea and the competitors. It’s hard for me because I’ve never had much responsibility in employment and in my own business I’ve never had to see myself as someone in charge because it never felt like that.

SB1Design, post: 204294 wrote:
I agree with this. Do not let the perception of others put you off your own business dreams and goals. You never know what is going on behind the flashy website.

bluepenguin, post: 204272 wrote:
And remember that perception is everything.

You may look at a competitor and think “wow, these guys are killing it!”, but in reality it could be the total opposite; The owner could be up to his neck in debt, struggling to get clients, yet from their website and marketing you’d never know.

I agree. But it wasn’t so much the flashy websites, it was more the background and experience of the people running such a business. Again, going back to the example above, there’s a difference between being a waiter in a restaurant and being the manager of one. You may have experience as a waiter but that doesn’t mean you have a clue about running the business overall.

As people have been saying, seeing others in your business area is a sign that there is a need for it. The important issue is to try and distinguish yourself in some way. Think about what you intend to offer differently to the competition, and importantly how that will help your potential clients.

Well, my idea is definitely different to my competitors, although I want to do more research. There’s a possibility that using a different bunch of search terms will turn up people who are doing basically the same thing but with a different use of language to market themselves. I do believe that my idea would broaden the types of people I could attract to the service, and also an opportunity to specialise for a growing subculture. There are also a number of other avenues that these competitors don’t cater for, but I could access due to the different direction I will take.

The problem at this point is that just because I like my idea doesn’t mean other people will – and so I think the best thing to do is to ignore for a moment the competitors and focus on some market research first.

All the same, as James has posted recently, deep analysis of the competition is all part of the business plan. You can not afford to ignore this, especially if a large financial investment is required.

Yep, I will be spending a lot of time doing research. I’ve written up a 40-point action plan which is mostly made up of ‘research this, look into that’. And I am looking at doing the Cert IV in Small Business so a lot of the planning will come from that.

JamesMillar, post: 204275 wrote:
Really you need more than just a unique selling proposition – more of a sustainable competitive advantage that competitors can’t match (because if you bring in a variant that proves successful they will be sure to follow). Otherwise you may end up in the sea of sameness.

There is of course the possibility that other people will attempt a copy. There’s always that, and I never think an idea is unique. I do however think that quality and good customer service beats unique ideas. Fortunately the difference I hope to offer is not something that most people will want to offer. It’s quirky and it requires a certain attitude and willingness to head in this particular direction.

As for sustainable, I’m not sure. There’s lots of room to do the ‘typical’ stuff, but there’s also a lot of other things the service could do. Going back to my example, it’s like saying that I’m hoping to build a Japanese restaurant, where obviously lots of people like Japanese food; but then I could also provide specialised catering just for…. people who do anime cosplay. Obviously, not all Japanese restaurants are going to want to cater for such a subculture, and those that do will probably be interested in anime themselves and can pull it off with some style. So on the one hand you have a restaurant who does X thing and that’s all they do, and on the other hand you have a restaurant who does X thing but also Y and Z that are more specialised. The former can offer to the majority of their market, but the latter restaurant can offer things to both the broad and narrow sectors. Does that make sense?

It’s all nice and positive to suggest that hard work and good intentions will get you to the top but in my view that is a massive over simplification.

You don’t have to tell me. I’m out of work because hard work and good intentions was never enough to match those people who just had a beer with each other after a job and swapped phone numbers. I’m sorry if you thought I was being overly optimistic because the whole reason I posted this thread in the first place was that I have, and still have, a major concern that my ideas are worth nothing in the face of reality.

Rather, my excitement if you can call it that, was the idea that there is indeed a counter-culture out there – one that specifically avoids doing the typical, one that revels in boutique off-the-beaten-path stores and services, one that avoids the glitz and sheen of daily life. I picked up on the McDonald’s theme because recently I went out of my way to find a back-alley burger joint to try their stuff. It was more expensive than Macca’s but I went because I liked the idea and experience they were offering. In other words, it wasn’t their food I was interested in, it was their counter-culture oddness that attracted me. It was the realisation that I could use that counter-culture attitude to my advantage that I was talking about.

We see way too many small businesses (many from this forum) throw away hard earned savings because fail to be objective or read too many Richard Branson books. The development of a financially successful (not just viable) small business requires incredibly detailed analysis of many many elements. Competitor analysis is a key part of that.

I will now out myself as someone who refuses to read self-help books, ‘how to be a success’ books, and anything like that. I’m not naive, I’ve gone through several failed businesses (if you can call them that) so far, as well as been employed by a few start-ups that never went anywhere. And the point of this whole conversation was because I don’t want to throw away any money at all. I want to know ahead of time how much money it will take and if it will have a chance at succeeding, and then I’ll decide if I’m all in. Hence the panic about competitors.

Start with a detailed SWOT analysis and review each element. If you internal strengths and weaknesses don’t meet the standard then you have your answer. You will need to be exceptionally good at outsourcing and managing your supply chain if the model is premised on leveraging external skills for everything.

I prefer to play the Devil’s advocate. It’s not always popular but if it makes you research a little more then mission accomplished.

Thank you. I will be doing SWOT and a business plan and am at the moment mostly just sketching out my ideas so I know what kind of research I need to do. As for the outsourcing, it’s one reason I thought about doing a partnership or collaboration, because there’s much more equal share and equal input into the success of the business. But I recognise that’s problematic in itself. This is my biggest worry and I’m at the moment wondering if there’s a way to leave out that particular element of my idea – but then it ceases being the service I wanted to offer and would be something else entirely. That’s not necessarily a problem as I’m not attached at the hip to my idea, but it does kind of defeat the point of the idea itself.

And also: I really really appreciate the devil’s advocate thing. I much prefer helpful critique than people standing by and pretending they like something when they don’t. Helps keep the quality of everyone’s work and ideas to a high standard.

Phew! Sorry for the long reply.