“What competition?” We don’t have any competition.” I’ve been hearing that a lot lately.
As some of you know, in addition to my focus on starting a business, I recently also became a part time consultant for a small venture capital firm. So I’ve been listening to pitches from early-stage and start-up entrepreneurs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard them discount the fact that their businesses have any competition.
It seems to me many in the entrepreneurial world don’t like to talk about competition. And part of me gets it. Entrepreneurs must have the confidence they are onto a good idea. They do so when there’s no evidence to support them. Having faith in an unproven business is a hallmark of successful entrepreneurship, one could argue. Perhaps entrepreneurs believe acknowledging competition might make their ideas look less original or less attractive to stakeholders, or derail them from their goal.
In the past, I too have been guilty of not giving the competition the credit it deserves. However, as I’ve immersed myself in the denim market, I’ve come to admire and respect what large manufacturers like Adraino Goldschmied (AG Jeans) and Levi Strauss (Levi’s) have done for the industry and consumers.
So I am a little more open and honest about the incredibly competitive landscape of the denim world. Yet, I am very optimistic we can establish ourselves successfully within our niche market.
According to 2014 Mintel reports, the men’s apparel industry will grow to $82.9 billion by 2018. I’m happy to start with an initial goal of capturing 0.0001% of that market. I realize that will take a great deal of hard work. Yet, putting our initial goal into a quantitative perspective makes it seem much more achievable.
Hopefully, this post helps you realize you can stay focused on your goals and still recognize the reality of the competitive landscape. Ultimately, we all want to create positive change within our industries and address under-realized needs. Use your mission and your vision as your motivation to allow your story and ideas to really show through your product and certainly consumers will respond.
I will likely not be the next Levi Strauss but I would also be happy with my passionate 0.0001% of the market, engaging consumers who love what we are designing and love the “why.” I hope you too can find your piece of the pie within your market.
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:3-4