The reading level for this article is All Levels
There’s a lot of value around being first in your business. The first person to come up with a hot product or service tends to reap a huge amount of rewards in the process.
However, being first isn’t always all that and a bag of chips. In fact, there are times when being second to the party puts you in a better position than being first. Below are 3 reasons to celebrate being second:
1. You know there is a market for what you’re selling. The one thing no one talks about in the “quest to be first” is the fact that lots of times, the person who is first falls flat on their face. Sure we all want to be Apple with the next iPod. But what about all those businesses who came up with some brand-spanking new gadget and didn’t sell a thing?
Years ago, I read a story about entrepreneurs knowing when it was time to give up. One of the stories was from a guy who created a picture frame that “talked” — I can’t remember if you could create your own audio but I do remember he had these pictures of famous events, like Neil Armstrong on the moon, and you pressed a button and heard a recording of Neil talking about one giant leap for mankind.
Everyone who saw it loved the concept. But no one loved it enough to buy them. He said he stayed in business a good couple years past when he should have quit and lost thousands more because people kept telling him what a cool concept that was even though it apparently wasn’t “cool” enough to actually purchase.
So here we have a story about someone who was first with this cool concept and no one bought it. Because there wasn’t a market for it. And that in a nutshell is why it can be scary to be first, because you have no idea if what you’re selling is something people actually want to buy. (Or at least want to buy at that moment of time — there are also stories of entrepreneurs who had the right idea at the wrong time — 10 years later the idea is big hit but not when they came up with it.)
Now, if you’re second, then you can celebrate because you know there’s a market for what you’re offering. In fact, I would go as far to say if there’s competition for what you want to offer that’s a good thing because then you know for sure there’s a market for it.
2. You can improve upon what the “first” already did. Google wasn’t the first search engine out there. Zappos wasn’t the first to sell shoes online. But now both of them are the two-ton gorilla in the room. They looked at what the other “firsts” were doing — both right and wrong, and improved upon it.
And not only does this mean improving on the product or service it also means improving on the marketing.
If you are second you’re in a fabulous position to analyze what the “first” did and see how you can improve it to solidify your position in the marketplace. And if you do this right, you may have your own opportunity to be “first” — and reap the benefits without taking as much of the risks, which I cover in the next reason.
3. You have the opportunity to put your unique spin on whatever is “first” — which could make it “first.” Let’s take coaches. Coaches have been around, well, probably for as long as there were people. I suspect when we were all cavemen we had coaches teaching us better ways to run away from saber tooth tigers and selecting the right berry to gather. But coaches as an entrepreneur industry is a relatively new thing. And the new twists on coaching also can make it feel first, even though the field of coaching is not new.
How this could work in your own business: See what you offer in your business that’s a “second” — is there a way you can put your own stamp on it (maybe combine with something else or approach it with a fresh angle) that could give you the security of knowing there’s a market while also letting you be “first” with your own twist? This is the secret to standing out in a crowded marketplace so don’t rush into this. Play around with some ideas and test them out to see what you come up with.