Your Biggest Competitor is Obscurity

January 19, 2009

Do you know who your biggest competitor is? It might not be as straight forward as you think. Let’s use FreshBooks as an example. You probably think QuickBooks is our greatest competition. They’re not. Our greatest competition is obscurity.

Despite our success over the last 5 years, virtually no one knows they need online invoicing because it’s a new concept, and the truth is pretty much no one on this planet has ever heard of FreshBooks. The lesson here is that when you are a small company doing innovative things, don’t spend time thinking about your competition – focus on getting the word out. Eric Karjaluto writes a great post about why startups fail. It’s not because of the incumbants, it’s because they don’t get the mind share and attention they need to survive.

The bottom line is that you need to fight to be heard. You don’t need to focus your energy on the 800 pound gorilla, though many startups make that mistake. If there is an 800 pound gorilla, then they’ve proven there is enough market to go around, and its not them who you are losing to. And if that’s true, it’s the fact that no one knows about you that’s standing between you and success.

So get out your fog horn and make sure the world knows all about you, and while you’re at it, feel free to mention FreshBooks – we’ll take all the help we can get. 😉

about the author

Co-Founder & CEO, FreshBooks Mike is the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, the world’s #1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals. Built in 2003 after he accidentally saved over an invoice, Mike spent 3.5 years growing FreshBooks from his parents’ basement. Since then, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing, and collect billions of dollars. A lover of the outdoors, Mike has been bitten so many times it’s rumored he’s the first human to have developed immunity to mosquitoes.