How to start a business in a competitive industry

Whilst luck can play its part, an innovative strategy and the foresight to seize opportunities quickly can help your business success in a crowded market

Making serious money from a new venture is all about choosing the right moment to strike. Promoting your new product or service at a time when interest is high is something that many businesses pay big money for.

That’s why, even if your product fills a gap in the market, it’s easy to fall behind competitors who can get their message out there faster and more effectively.

The big industry players, with the biggest budgets, are usually well-placed to attack an emerging area of the market. After all, they already have a customer base, exposure and reputation – three things a start-up doesn’t have.

Despite this challenging commercial backdrop, it’s still entirely possible to hit the ground running by a following a few simple tips, and having a solid strategy in place. The best industry disruptors all use a mixture of tactics to get a strategy together and decide on the best time to move, and they all have one word in common: innovation.

Getting in at the best time

It’s quite rare that an entirely new market will suddenly open up, but it isn’t entirely uncommon for a new phenomenon to open up the door to serious money-making possibilities.

Just ask Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who all invested in internet-based products at the same time. Alongside these successful entrepreneurs who all benefitted from the birth of the digital world, there are hundreds of others which didn’t quite make the cut. For example: Pets.com, Vine and MySpace failed to evolve alongside the internet.

Amazon was originally a bookseller, it was competing against the likes of Borders, Barnes & Noble and Waterstones – plus hundreds of thousands of bookshops around the world.

Selling books was nothing new, but what set Amazon apart was how they embraced the internet to enable booksellers and readers to connect in ever-easier ways.

They innovated their way into the market, monopolising the growth of eBooks and self-publishing, and their competitors soon faded away. Last year, Amazon sold 35 million print books than in 2016, taking an even greater market share than its competitors.

Similarly, Bitcoin started life as a bit of a nerdy experiment – an open source code that has a link to a paper titled ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’.

It slowly gained enough traction to become a financial currency in its own right, and in 2010 a developer bought two pizzas using 10,000 Bitcoin. In the past few years it’s grown to become a financial phenomenon that made both headlines and money for investors – with huge surges in value, particularly in 2017.

Although Bitcoin was the original cryptocurrency, the market was soon flooded with cryptocurrencies that promised to improve and innovate on the original Bitcoin concept, and now there are literally hundreds of competitors who are trying to become the next big thing for investors.

Although it’s too early to tell just how many of these cryptocurrencies will survive, it just proves how much easier it is for new start-ups to ride the coattails of an industry-changer, before attempting to claw market share from them. Oh, and those pizzas bought for 10,000 bitcoin? That’s worth $100 million today.

Attacking an existing market

Online casinos are a classic example of how to make inroads into established industries. They started to emerge back in the early 1990s, with dial-up users connecting to incredibly basic gambling platforms on desktop PCs.

Now, we’re gambling on our mobile phones almost everywhere we can get an internet connection. In the UK alone, online gambling now accounts for one-third of all gambling revenue, according to the Gambling Commission.

How have online gambling operators done this? They’ve focused on how they set themselves apart from bricks-and-mortar gambling houses – primarily, the convenience of being able to gamble from the comfort of your own home, or if you’re on the move.

However, they’ve also worked to improve the audio and visuals of their games and slots to make them more immersive and engaging for users.

RoseSlots.com is a prime example of an online gambling operator that’s earned its place in the market. It’s responded to the huge surge in people gambling on mobile by developing mobile gaming apps.

Small opportunities have allowed Rose Slots to gain a foothold in a seriously competitive industry. To further strengthen its status, it specifically targets a female audience, ensuring that it stands out from the crowd.

Through making incremental, cost-effective changes, it’s off to a good start, this business model is certainly one to take note of, it is beneficial to go with the tide rather than trying to revolutionise the game altogether.

Strategy is everything

A strategy geared towards moving quickly will help businesses who are trying to enter a new market fast.

If you’re going to be competing with businesses that are all about capturing market share in a fast-growing industry, then a plan and approach are absolute must-haves.

From strict budgeting that reacts to the needs of marketing at the right time, to a timeline driven by targets, even the simplest strategies go a long way in time-constrained situations.

Adopting an agile methodology for example is an easy way to ensure that business process doesn’t bog down any quick movement, with reduced meetings, flowing co-working and targets that can be achieved independently making it much easier for business to hit their goals quicker.

It’s also a great way to see just how efficient your new business can be, without the pressure being piled on too much.

Don’t give up too soon against established competitors

Going up against more established and powerful competitors may be daunting, but determination can often take a smaller business further than anyone could expect.

There’s also the skill of knowing when to quit. If your business isn’t keeping up with the competition, or is simply not making enough money from a new fad or flash in the pan fashion, then knowing where to pull the plug is key.

As well as avoiding crashing and burning completely, you may actually be set up to work towards a new opportunity that is around the corner.

Although it may seem like a short-term approach, it’s actually conducive to better flexibility and a more dynamic approach to hitting fast-rising opportunities at the right time. You’ll also gain the most valuable asset for businesses that rely on riding a wave, making their money, and getting out – experience.