How do you gain the first-mover advantage as a small business?

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(Copyright © 2016 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)
(Copyright © 2016 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

When I was growing up and we went fishing for snoek off my father’s ski boat at Cape Point we became excited when we were the first to discover the giant shoals of Snoek. When the shoals of snoek were concentrated as they moved into False Bay, the fishing was good. Within a few hours you could catch enough to fill the boat’s fish hold and go home early to market.

In the following days, the commercial fishermen out of Kalk Bay and Simon’s Town and the ski boat fraternity would hear that there was snoek off Cape Point. A whole flotilla of fishing boats would be fishing for the snoek shoals. Sometimes it was chaotic. If you were into a shoal of snoek, other boats would drift next to you throwing out the lines and entangling them in yours. There was much cursing and cussing. Within a few days, unless the South Easter or North Wester came up, the shoals would have dwindled and the fishing would be poor.

A new American pizza franchise’s has moved into an area in our local community. We are just hoping that this francised outlet doesn’t lower the tone of the neighbourhood. You can just imagine the fast-food buyer for this kind of food, crowding out the parking, throwing irempty pizza boxes and cool drink bottles out onto the pavement, attracting an unsavoury element to the tiny local community. But the bigger picture here is that this American foreign francise outlet is the seventh such food store to open in our local neighbourhood. It is second in its category because the Italian restaurant across the road also makes pizzas.

Now there are seven food outlets opposite street corners slugging it out for the consumers’ eat out discretionary spending. Some of the previous food outlets have come and gone going bust. These have included a steakhouse, a flame grilled chicken national chain and a small Asian cuisine eatery. With such concentration, who knows which outlet will be next.

It’s interesting that the original restaurant in this small neck of the woods was started by an entrepreneur. This entrepreneur saw the gap for a restaurant in the local community and ran it successfully for a good few years before moving on to other things. He sold his piece of the action to a group of three shareholders who ever since have battled it out to try and restore the place to its former glory. But without success. The first mover, the entrepreneur, did business there without the competition of seven other food outlets. Like a nomad, he left and pitched his tent in greener pastures.

When you come up with an idea for a new enterprise, a new product or new service think about the competitive intensity in the market you’re aiming for and how quickly your business will attract competitors. Yes, competition is good. But you want to give yourself an opportunity to harvest as much income as you can from your business, before the floodgates open wide. Learn how to do this in “Breakthrough Ideas”.

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