Shreyas Doshi+ Your Authors @shreyas early PM & first PM lead @stripe. formerly a PM lead @twitter @google @yahoo. I share offbeat ideas here—useful for some, useless for many, not for everyone ❤️ Jul. 17, 2020 2 min read + Your Authors

This is going to sound too obvious, but just hear me out:

B2B startups & product teams should take the time to understand their competitors.

Too many product folks don’t do this & as a result go through 𝘺𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘴 of pain.

Why does this happen & how to get this right?

👇🏾

Mindsets that get in the way:
• Overly eager to “just start building”
• Falsely equating “understand” with “copy”
• Self-talk of “skate where the puck is going”

Exacerbated by beliefs such as “Steve Jobs didn’t look at 𝘩𝘪𝘴 competition”. Don’t fall prey to Survivorship Bias

So, what should you do as a startup founder, product leader, or product manager?

I know you're super-busy. You’ve got so much other stuff to do.

So let’s 80/20 this <insert PM joke>.

You don't need to go get a PhD in your competition.

The basics will take you quite far.

Here are the basics that you need to understand about your competitors:

• Target customer segments
• Product value proposition
• Inherent advantages
• Deficiencies & weaknesses
• Go-to-market approach

Create a table with these factors for at least your top 3 competitors (est time: <1 week)

Refresh it at least every 6 months (est time: 1 day)

In return, will save months/years of pain

And (if it matters) you'll come across as more competent to your Board/CEO/Sr. Management
📈

In sum:

Understand your competition upfront. (it won’t take 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 much time)

Use this understanding as one of the inputs to your product strategy.

Execute on this strategy to build a differentiated product.

Stay up-to-date on the competitive landscape.

👍🏾All the best!

Follow up:

Almost any thing, if done in excess, can be at least as bad thing as the complete absence of said thing.

The call to action here is about being somewhere in between having zero true knowledge of your competition to tracking or mimicking every micro-move of theirs.

So, please don't fixate on the competition.

Some places do have that problem. What to do?

This is the whole point of a product strategy.

Lack of a clear strategy is what leads to startups/teams dancing to the tune of their competition rather than their own.

Strategy is vital.

Highlighting this reply regarding how to pick the top N competitors:

Highlighting this reply regarding some tactics for competitive research (obviously non-exhaustive):

More tactics:


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