How do you see yourself, entrepreneur? Do you set a trend or follow a trend? Are you a “me too” or a disruptor? Are you first to market or last to market?
I can already hear the clever ones saying, “Oh, I’m all about being first to market; I’m a disruptor; I’m a trend setter”. Sorry, clever ones – but that’s stupid. If your focus is on being ahead of the pack, you’re doomed - to blow through time and money in a never-ending race to reinvent yourself, to be something new that you’re not; innovating for the sake of innovation, instead of having purpose and passion. Defining yourself as a disruptor is irrelevant, expensive, and ultimately as productive as a squirrel running in a wheel. What are you chasing? Yourself.
Consider the so-clever Sisyphus, the king of Ephyra sentenced by the gods to roll a boulder up a hill, watch it roll down the other side, then push it up again over and over for eternity. That’s a perfect illustration of the life of a career trendsetter. The boulder never stops rolling back down – and there’s a good chance that one of these times it will roll over you.
Here’s a crazy idea: Be last to market, not first. Study what everyone’s already doing, and then do it better. Learn on their dime, not yours. The trendsetters have to continually fight to stay relevant and ward you off; they have to worry about staying in first place. The challenger brands can watch to see what works, adapt it, then take it up a notch. I love challenger brands that take what someone’s doing well and do it better - then steal all the customers that the trendsetter has already educated on the product benefits and industry. Smart, yes? Yes. Following a trend doesn’t mean being a follower; that’s shallow thinking. It’s being smarter than the leader, by keeping your eyes on the prize and not prizing the chase.
Okay, and on a personal note? I’m definitely not a trendsetter, but I also hate following - so I’m just about being authentically myself, because there is only one of me; everyone else is taken :).
Run your business like you run your life - being real and not trying to be what you’re not - and success will come to you, my friend.