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SEPTEMBER 2018

Beat the Competition

If you learn from your rivals, listen to your customers and move fast, competition becomes the fuel that drives your success.

Start by re-framing how you see rivals. Rather than seeing rivals as threats, see them as allies that can help you establish credibility for new technology, as your free R&D department, as future colleagues in an acquisition. 

A new study from Stanford shows that competition has the indirect effect of boosting innovation. You have more raw material for innovation. You can team up to distract your largest competitors. You can even avoid wasting resources on approaches that your competitors have already tried and failed.

The key to surviving and thriving is your mindset.

Pay attention to unconventional competitors
It's easy to get distracted by the biggest players in an industry. Don't. You will learn more by watching newer, smaller ventures. Read Stanford Professor Riitta Katila's research on why more competition spurs innovation.

Focus on your customers
Few startups fail because of competition, says Alex Osterwalder, the creator of the Business Model Canvas. Most fail from a lack of customers. Rather than fretting about rivals, get to know your customers - really know them. What do they need? What brings them delight? How can your product make their lives more efficient and more joyful? Read Osterwalder's tips on building a customer-focused business model.

Move fast. Be flexible.
Startups are nimbler and more flexible than large organizations. So, move. Large companies win by doing certain things very well. Don't try to beat them at their best. Watch for the gaps that large organizations can't address and move swiftly to capture those customers. Watch Dominic Orr discuss the strategy Aruba Networks used to increase their speed.

Drew Houston on Stanford eCorner

Should You Worry About Competition?

Drew Houston, Dropbox

5 MIN | MAY 30, 2012

You can't control the competition. Time and energy are better spent on factors within your control.
Catherine Berman on Stanford eCorner

Focus on What Rivals Ignore

Catherine Berman, CNote

3 MIN | OCT 31, 2017

Meet the needs of the customers that your competitors are ignoring.
Aaron Levie on Stanford eCorner

Out Innovate Bigger Competitors

Aaron Levie, Box.net

5 MIN | JAN 20, 2011

Cater to customers who love your product.
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Stanford eCorner is produced by STVP, the entrepreneurship center at Stanford Engineering.

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