Assessing Your Competition

The “Red Queen Affect” is a reference to the evil queen from Alice in Wonderland, but it’s a powerful and archetypal story element because it references a natural real world phenomenon: As you are racing to compete with your competitors, they aren’t just standing still. Your competitors are also racing, so you have to forever outpace their innovation if you want to have any chance of catching up, staying ahead, and otherwise being successful against them.

The other hard thing about competition is that it’s a constant distraction. If you spend time worrying about it, you’ll be taking away from the time you spend serving your customer. But also if you ignore your competition, it could surprise you when you are unprepared.

General advice for startups is to ignore your competition day-to-day and assign one person to spend a couple days each quarter to checking in on them. Your own team needs to stay focused on customer value. Now, to create that mentality from the beginning and retaining everyone’s trust (employees and investors), it’s very important that you can call out each of your potential competitors by name. Name each of them, and explain why they are not of concern right now.

Complete the following sentences to help score your business on it’s Surviveability

  • Our current and future competitors are … (name them) and our hedge against them is …
  • We will never lose our … (eg. niche monopoly, loyal community, etc)

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