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5 Reasons Not to Avoid Starting a Business That Already Exists

5 Reasons Not to Avoid Starting a Business That Already Exists

For an entrepreneur, one of the scariest ideas can be launching a business in a niche or market that already has plenty of competition. Startup founders might ask themselves, “What’s the point in doing this? There are plenty of other businesses already doing what I’m thinking about doing.”

Even if there may be reasons to stay out of the business, there are also plenty of reasons to go ahead and dive into the business. Here are five excellent reasons you should not avoid starting a business that already exists.

1. There is always room for improvement

While the competition might be doing a lot of things right, you’re sure to find things that they’re doing wrong. You can capitalize on that knowledge and build a business that does it better. For example, OrthoticShop.com was launched even though other businesses like Zappos were already quite successful in the industry. The founders knew they could do it better, though, and the success greatly exceeded their expectations.

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Brian Crane, founder at CallerSmart, adds “nobody dreams up and launches a brand-new business in my opinion. Instead, new businesses are iterations of previous ideas, made better. When Google launched, it was designed to be a better search engine than Lycos, Yahoo, etc. When Facebook launched, it was designed to be a better social network than MySpace, Friendster, etc. Starting a new business based on improvements you’d like to see made to an existing business is only natural.”

2. The market already exists

Marcus Miller, the managing director of Bowler Hat and wArmour, says starting a business that already exists could be described as “the easier and more sensible option. An existing business has existing demand and a ready made audience. If you start something new, then you have to work double hard to educate people as to why your business exists and why they should do business with you.” Miller’s two successful businesses are proof positive of this, since the market for Web design and Internet marketing, as well as cybersecurity and maintenance, are already strong fields with plenty of demand.

Casey McCallister, Director of Marketing at SmartShoot, believes that competition is a good thing. “Companies need competition to be successful. It pushes them to make better and more functional products. Microsoft and Apple both push each other to be better. Canon and Nikon. Marriott and Hilton. Without competition, companies have little incentive to innovate,” says Casey.

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3. You can put a unique spin on the product

Every business is different, and you already know that you have to differentiate yourself from your competition. A good way to do this, as well as compete in an existing market, is to put your own unique spin on the idea. For example, DuckDuckGo is a search engine competing head-on with Google. Google has very little concern for your privacy, tracking almost every move you make on the Internet.

DuckDuckGo, on the other hand, does not track any personal information, and that key difference has driven the company’s growth over the past couple of years. While DuckDuckGo will likely never replace Google, the search engine has carved out its own small and very profitable niche doing something similar to what Google does, but with a unique twist.

4. Businesses must evolve or die

Culture is perpetually changing, and businesses must evolve to stay with the times. The business that stops serving the needs of its customers, or continues to operate in a way that is neglectful or dismissive of the customer’s dignity, cannot last.

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Hans Enriquez realized that, and the idea that businesses must evolve or die was the impetus behind him launching LazyDaze. Enriquez “knew that the typical ‘smoke shop concept’ would need a complete revamp from its dark and dingy storefront,” and knew that he could bring that value to the market.

Enriquez launched LazyDaze to be a smoke shop with the look of Urban Outfitters, the customer service of Nordstroms, and the convenience and high quality products of Macy’s. This evolution resulted in a counterculture business that is thriving and opening new franchises regularly.

5. The need is still outstripping the demand

One company (or even a dozen companies) can rarely fulfill the needs of the entire marketplace for a product. There is usually an opening to market your product to others who have not yet made the leap, or have purchased a product from a competitor and not been totally satisfied (see point #1 above).

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This gives you, the budding entrepreneur, the opportunity to fulfill the need for the product, and do so even better than anyone else has done before. Yellowball, a digital marketing firm, entered a market that was already quite saturated. However, by ensuring they delivered the results their clients needed better than their competition, Yellowball was able to thrive even as a latecomer to the party.

Conclusion

There you go, five strong reasons why you should go ahead and open your business even if there is already competition in the marketplace. The free market economy is beginning to boom once again, and there is always room for new players.

If you play your cards right, your unique spin on an idea or improvement on an existing product could result in the next iPod or iPhone.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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