It’s difficult to launch a new business. And it can seem even more challenging to innovate in an industry where other companies are already well-established (and with deep pockets). But I say do it anyway.
Take my industry, for example. I founded The Bouqs Company, a cut-to-order online flower delivery service, knowing the online floral industry had stiff competition. But I also knew there were major pain points I could address since I hated sending flowers online through the ‘big guys,’ and because my co-founder Juan Pablo Montufar had recognized and solved some serious pain points for flower farmers. If the producer and the buyer of a product aren’t happy, there’s opportunity — regardless of the level of competition.
Here are three reasons why I launched my business despite the competition — and why you should also consider shaking up an established industry.
1. Entrenched competitors tend to be slower to change.
This is both because they don’t want to, and because they feel they don’t need to. Since they are already ‘established’ and ‘doing well,’ they have processes, people, culture, and relationship obstacles to overcome.
These ecosystems also often represent inefficiencies, whether of time or money. Take advantage of this opportunity to use technology to remove entire swaths of inefficiency and drive better economic value.
This is great news for a new entrant. You’re able to be much more nimble than an established company. You can make those changes you think customers want. You can also test ideas more easily and act immediately on the feedback you receive.
2. The space has been validated.
With established competitors, there’s no need to create demand for your product category. You will also spend less time educating customers about the need for it since it’s already been demonstrated. Of course, if customers are already completely happy with the existing solutions, you may need to educate them about why you’re better. But if they’re not? You’re in a great spot.
This also helps with fundraising, which you may need at some point. It can be more difficult to convince investors to back your concept if it’s uncharted territory. But if an investor can easily understand how your solution is better and the product fits into her or his life, you’ll get further faster with investor pitches.
3. Competitors can help you determine your unique selling points.
When my co-founder and I launched The Bouqs Company, we looked at the big players in the space and said: How can we be as different as possible? Our answer was to do the opposite in as many places as possible.
I identified some of the major pain points in the space including bait-and-switch photos, cheesy up-sells, 20-click checkouts, heavy spam and old flowers. My co-founder also saw the challenges on the farming side including an inefficient supply chain, outdated processes, lack of transparency and old-school technology. This is why we ship healthy, strong flowers straight from eco-friendly farms and offer flat rates, free shipping and with no cheesy add-ons. Whereas our competitors have thousands of options, we have a more curated collection. And customers almost never know where competitors’ flowers come from, while we have complete transparency through our farm-direct, third-party-verified network of farms.
My advice? Use the offerings of your competitors as a starting point. This can help you determine what you should stand for, how you can be different, where you can add value and what not to do.
Competition isn’t necessarily something to avoid when launching a startup. It’s extremely rare to find true white space regardless, but competition in and of itself can be a good thing. In order to truly be successful, learn from the inefficiencies and pain points that already exist in the industry, then make your product the solution.
This post originally appeared on Forbes