Why I don’t worry about competiton

Often when talking to press or VC’s, they ask a million questions about competition – about Google, Microsoft, and other document sharing sites. I tell them, that’s not what worries me. What worries me is not being able to execute on our own plans, not delivering on the promise to our users, not figuring out what the right strategy should be, not being nimble and agile enough to change as the field evolves, or not focusing on our customers enough.

That’s what keeps me up at night.

Sridhar Vembu from Zoho has written a brilliant post: Companies don’t get killed by competition, they commit sucide about this issue – he is referring to a post about Microsoft Office 2010 which spelled out the death of Zoho.

He points out that people have been asking Zoho the survival question from the beginning. How will you survive after large company does X or Y?

We used to have the same question about Google. Before they launched Google Presently, we used to keep getting asked – what will you do when Google launches their presentation app. Well, it was great once they launched Presently. No one asks us about Presently anymore.

Now they ask about Microsoft – are you not afraid that Microsoft will launch a sharing app? Yes, they might launch a presentation sharing app. No, I am not afraid. They are about collaboration and will focus on that in their sharing site. Our natural strength is presentations as social media. And like Sridhar points out for Zoho, we are small and nimble (only 20 people). We use that to our advantage and adapt.

Often when talking to VC’s, I get the feeling they think I am too blasé about competition. Thing is, I have heard from the beginning. First they told us, a presentation sharing site traffic can never get so much traffic (this is when we only had 2 million monthly uniques). Now we have 18 million monthly uniques.

Then they told us, Google would kill us with their presentation app. They did not.

Then they told us other presentation authoring apps would kill us. They did not. We are thriving.

If you worry too much about competition, you are always playing the follower game, following in their footsteps. You stop seeing the lay of the land since you are so focused on what your competition. Instead of leading the company with your own strategy, you start driving based on someone else’s strategy which you might not understand, and which does not focus on your strengths.

Focus on what you do well, for your customers. Do that better, do it for more people. Differentiate yourself.

Competition is a good thing. It makes things better for the customers. It gives them options. Stop being afraid of it, and focusing on it at the expense of focusing on your strengths.

31 thoughts on “Why I don’t worry about competiton

  1. well said, well put. Totally agree with you.

    Slideshare is becoming a standard and I don’t think anyone can replace it easily.

    All the best.

    -abdul

  2. Nice post, Rashmi.

    Out of the gates, the only competitor a startup needs to worry about is itself. Can you execute? You aren’t taking your first million from the 800-pound gorilla. You’re first millions comes by expanding the market by a million.

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  4. Rashmi, great to see the echo …your article and also Sridhar’s about competition.

    If competition was such a fearful thing, there would never been a Google in first place, they were the 10th search engine to arrive

    In the new innovation driven world, it is all about lean,thin,capacity to survive & prosper (in long run) … my 2cents

  5. Liked your thoughts. Focusing on your own plans should definitely get priority but while drawing those plans one should keep competition in mind. Not thinking about competition can probably get you where Yahoo! currently is …..

  6. Nice article. Being optimistic helps and is much needed. To quote Hugo “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come” . So as long as the product speaks for itself people will embrace it.

    Having said the above, I would say we ought to be cognizant of the might of big sharks. We know, all too well what they can do. Positive yes, underestimate no ..

  7. Great thought! The big guys became big by executing their own ideas, not by following the competition! Competition can be thwarted by two means, action and counter-action… simply worrying about what they might do is only planning for counter-action, the action piece may get missed by the emphasis on counter-action

  8. Dear Rashmi,

    Although I strongly believed on the quote “Follow your dream, not the competition”, but at some point of time I could not stick to my rule anymore. But today, reading your article help me realize the aspect of creativity and being one’s self, one more time.

    Thanks a lot. Abdullah.

  9. Awesome – “What worries me is not being able to execute on our own plans, not delivering on the promise to our users” reminds me of Indra Nooyi (CEO, Pepsi) on an interview when asked about the comptetion with Coke. The exact words she mentioned about focus our values, strengths, quality deliverables and that expands the market share.

    thank you for the post

  10. Great thought, i agree with you when you say the being follower creates inhibition and you get on defensive post. The way you have focused you positioning create a new play for you and you are leader in that.

  11. Dear Rashmi,

    We’d like to partner with SlideShare to encourage expert patients to share their expertise !

    The Indian healthcare system has become sick. Doctors are illness experts – and not healthcare experts. Healthcare needs to learn from the revolution which has occurred in microfinancing. When given money and the freedom to use it as they see fit , even very poor people have come up with remarkably innovative ideas which could never have been planned, designed or anticipated by the traditional experts – bankers!

    Information Therapy – the right information at the right time for the right person – can be powerful medicine ! Ideally, every clinic , hospital, pharmacy and diagnostic center should have a patient education resource center, where people can find information on their health problem .

    Slideshare can be a great platform to help patients to share their expertise. Is this something you’d be interested in exploring ?

    Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD
    Medical Director
    HELP – Health Education Library for People
    Excelsior Business Center,
    National Insurance Building,
    Ground Floor, Near Excelsior Cinema,
    206, Dr.D.N Road, Mumbai 400001
    Tel. No.:65952393/65952394

    Helping patients to talk to doctors !

    Information Therapy is the Best Prescription !

    Read over 20 health books free at http://www.helpforhealth.org

  12. Dear Rashmi,
    a very interesting post indeed, and it reminded me of some articles we had to read to read about oceans, blue oceans to be precise.
    If you are original and create a new concept or market, you are the one being followed and copied, instead of you watching the competition go forward. But some people seem to be afraid to head into the unknown, keep up the good work.
    Julius.

  13. Brilliant concept reflecting the fearlessness of those who are agile of the foot and mind ! This David ( and it’s no David really.. ) wins the hearts of all it’s users. Goliaths have much to deal with….
    Way to go Rashmi :)

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  16. Dear Rashmi,

    Although I strongly believed on the quote “Follow your dream, not the competition”, but at some point of time I could not stick to my rule anymore. But today, reading your article help me realize the aspect of creativity and being one’s self, one more time.

  17. Liked your thoughts. Focusing on your own plans should definitely get priority but while drawing those plans one should keep competition in mind. Not thinking about competition can probably get you where Yahoo! currently is …..

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