So often, we think of savvy entrepreneurs who have built their companies on nothing and turned them into zillion-dollar enterprises as being almost superhuman. They're unassailable forces for whom the rules don't apply. When actually, there's no such thing as an overnight success or someone who makes no mistakes. We love rags to riches stories so much that I think part of our psyches help build the legends of these people.
And because we look up to them, we think, "Hey, I don't have to do my due diligence: They trusted their gut, so I can, too."
Well, it's horse plop.
A recent piece in Technori exploring how "entrepreneurs think research and creative problem-solving are incompatible," and it's a fascinating read that should disavow people of these heroic notion. Essentially, it's about how research is a good thing. Obviously, part of business is trusting your gut, but it isn't all of it. We need the superego to balance out the id. Or, to put it in more clichéd terms, you should look before you leap. Especially when you have tons of your own money at stake.
So, where should you look? Technori cites venture capitalists urging plenty of startups to be up on what their competition is doing, and how they expect to differentiate themselves. You might know the broad strokes of what you're up against, but, really, how do you expect to get a competitive edge unless you know the finer details and stay current with it?
It's understandable that you might feel you only have so many hours in a day, and to spend a significant portion of them to keep eyes on another person's business is a potential waste of time. But business is both proactive and reactive. And you can't react unless you know what you're reacting to.
Anyway, give the Technori piece a read. It has links to great online tools to help make this less of a time-suck and a few good pointers from the aforementioned VCs.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.