Thursday, July 28, 2011

If Everyone was An Imitator would We Have Leaders?

I recently came across an article on Inc.com site that encourages entrepreneurs and businesses to imitate competitors’ ideas as a way to innovate. Also know as, “Follow the Leader”. According to Lauri Flaquer, a business consultant, “After all, why blaze your own trail when someone else has cleared a perfectly good one for you.”

I disagree with this message that it is better to wait for a leader to establish a market for an idea before entering it because:
1. If someone doesn’t lead nothing will ever improve
2. The first mover has the opportunity to define and solidify their position and command a hefty profit margin and transition to other businesses once it becomes crowded (IBM, GE, Virgin Galaxy)
3. The first mover can establish a disciplined culture of continuous self-reflection, self-improvement, self-cannibalization, self-exploring.
4. The first mover can use tactics to deter or eliminate competition. This option should be weighed carefully.
5. If you don’t do it, someone else will


The article stated some good points about being a follower rather than a leader when it comes to innovation.

Such as:
• Refining is easier (when you base your business on an existing model you can focus on what works and what doesn’t work.)
• Benchmark your progress (you know what works so you just apply it and compare results)
• Better Resource Management (when you are first you have to spend a lot to educate people, when you are second your focus is to make it better.)
• Learn from mistakes (so you don’t make the same)
• Learn strategies (figure out what strategies works for them and copy)
• Get funded (if the first mover proves it works, second, third movers can easily get funded)

All simply mean there are advantages and disadvantages to being first mover or a follower. This is the advice that Inc.com should have posted.

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