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Enterprise in Action: A Guide To Entrepreneurship by Peter Lawrence

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Chapter 4

Shades of Originality

Originality is a competitive weapon.

Some degree of originality will differentiate a company from the competition. Absolute originality, in the sense of a totally new product, new service, even original configuration, will differentiate the new company absolutely. That is to say, it will have no competition.

The reduction of the competition or a degree of protection against competition is tremendously important when a new company is launched. Many new companies find themselves in a desperate race to build a customer base and revenue from it before their start-up capital runs out. This comes across in the testimonies of entrepreneurs when they have the luxury of looking back, and we will cite some of these later.

When I have given talks about the dynamics of business start-ups I have found students not inclined to take this argument as seriously as it deserves to be taken. Surely, they say, even if it is completely original it will soon be clear what a good thing it is and others will want to do it. And if it is only original in some aspects then there will be other players in the industry who will adapt so as to gain the same advantage in the market place.

These are sensible enough arguments but they underestimate the impact of other factors. First of all, just because others can see what it is that you are doing, and it is not always obvious to those who observe rather than interact with the newly founded company, this does not mean they know how ...

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