37Signals' 5 Groundbreaking Tips on Competition for Startups

7th Sep 2012
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37signals was founded in 1999 by Jason Fried, Carlos Segura, and Ernest Kim as a web design company. Carlos and Ernest left in the subsequent years leaving Jason as the only founder. The company pivoted and in 2004 company's focus shifted from web design to web application development. Basecamp was it's first phenomenal success post which 37signals came out with applications like Backpack, Campfire and Highrise. David Hansson, the creater of Ruby on Rails joined 37signals and the duo of Jason and David took the company to great heights.Post their massive success, 37signals came up with their book 'Rework' which captured attention across the startup diaspora with tips from their experience that are must for a startup to imbibe. Here are the 5 tips Rework enlists about competition:

1) Don't Copy

This might seem like a thumb rule but one often forgets. Copying is okay when you're learning something. But in the real world, "Copying skips understanding. Understanding is how you grow. You have to understand why something works or why something is how it is. When you copy it, you miss that. You just repurpose the last layer instead of understanding all the layers underneath," says their blog. True indeed.

2) Pour Yourself Into the Product

Pour yourself into your product and everything around your product too: how you sell it, how you support it, how you explain it, and how you deliver it. Competitors can never copy the you in your product. If you're successful, people will try to copy what you do. You have all it takes.

3) Pick a Fight!

You must have been advised against this since childhood: never fight! But you might just have to do a bit of reworking. If you think a competitor sucks, say so. When you do that, you’ll find that others who agree with you will rally to your side. Being the anti-_____ is a great way to differentiate yourself and attract followers.

4) Underdo Your Competition

Conventional wisdom advises you to do more than your competition but this might not be true always. Whatever you do; do it well! The one-upping, cold war mentality is a dead end; instead try one-downing. Do the simple things better.

5) Focus on You, Instead of They

Someone wisely said, "Have an eye for your competition, but don't obsess." It's pointless to focus on your competition because the landscape changes all the time. Your competitor tomorrow maybe entirely different, you never know! There's no point in worrying about things you can't control. Do your stuff the best you can.

These and more tips have helped entrepreneurs all across. Rework is a must read for every entrepreneur.

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