6 lessons that I learned about competition from our users

Since we launched Parentool, multiple other, somewhat similar solutions have launched as well.

This is normal!

Once you see that a product works, you understand a market need might be underserved.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you. Of course, my stomach shrinks whenever someone sends me a link with ”look, they try to do what Parentool does”.

Because there is that survival instinct that activates within us all.

However, instead of using it as a show-stopper, I see it as a learning opportunity.

In the past year, I discovered that my thoughts were programmed to run on a scarcity mindset.

My definition of a scarcity mindset is that you think there is not enough for everyone.

This comes from your upbringing, your family’s financial status and even national culture and the relationship with the idea of enough and abundance. It’s way deeper than just a bunch of random thoughts.

So, the first step for me in having a better relationship with the idea of a soon-to-be crowded market was to work on my scarcity mindset.

Although rationally, I knew there was enough space under the sun; that emotional discomfort still didn’t let me fully enjoy the experience.

Here is what I learned about competition from our users

After becoming aware of my patterns, I also noticed how people relate to the idea of competition.

But before diving into the lessons, let’s define what competition is.

From my perspective, competition is an alternative your target audience uses to solve the problem you are trying to solve for them via your product/services.

Let’s dive into the lessons:

  1. Your competition isn’t who you think it is; it is who your clients tell you it is

This is pretty straightforward. The trap we all fall into as Founders is to start defining competition based on our assumptions. Nothing is wrong with that as long as we don’t stay at that level. Only through talking with our clients, we understand where they position our solution. Who is your solution living next to? If they can’t use your solution, how else are they solving their problem?

You will know your real competition once you find the answer to those questions.

2. The biggest competition is Do nothing.

I remember that once I stumbled upon this term, I raised my eyebrows in confusion. But things are pretty simple. It means your clients choose not to do anything to solve the problem they are facing. Also, there might be cases when they would prefer a flawed solution just because they are accustomed to it, and the costs of learning a new path are not worth it.

This might also be a sign that the problem you are trying to solve is not painful enough for them. So pay attention to this and don’t fall into the in-love-with-my-idea trap.

3. The market changes way faster than you think. Use it as a catalyst

One of the biggest mistakes, from my experience, is to go to extremes. Either become competition-obsessed or not be aware of the market dynamics at all.

I stay informed about the market dynamics but not let it overwhelm and overpower me. I use it to understand how else my clients can satisfy their needs.

4. Competition is your greatest teacher.

As you plan to launch, chances are that there is already a similar solution on the market. Instead of not looking at it, I find it more efficient to learn from it.

If you have similar clients or services, chances are they have already bumped into the same soon-to-be challenges you will face.

The most efficient thing you can do is learn from them and adapt the solutions to your clients. ALWAYS adapt what you want to do to your clients.

5. There is direct and indirect competition.

Direct competition is defined as being a similar solution/service to what you offer.

Indirect is the alternative that they use (ex: A budgeting tool vs. Excel).

From my experience with Parentool, I noticed that indirect competition is often more ‘‘dangerous’’ sort of to say. It is mainly because it is so diverse and usually a cheaper version of your offer. In our case, Facebook groups are the perfect example.

6. Being the first one on the market is a pain in the ass

What I frequently hear in the startup communities (and of course, we did it as well) was to think that being the first one in the market is something WOW.

What I realized is that it is mainly ego massage.

In reality, being the first solution of your kind means you will have to spend a lot of time and money on educating the market.

Take Uber as an example. They had to face all the laws, regulations, and mental blocks from their users. In comparison, Bolt launched after them in a market that was already ‘‘warmed’’ by Bolt.

I also included more lessons about competition and startup launching in my ebook From Idea to Launch: A step-by-step Guide for the Startup Founders. You can grab a copy here: https://petrutatuliga.com/


From my perspective, it all comes down to the same idea: focus on your customers, understand their needs and work on your limited beliefs to avoid self-sabotage.

Share with me your take on competition. ❤️

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