This got me questioning myself, and asking “should I pursue this project? After all, they are right.” After pondering this and the resulting tough questions which you have to ask yourself as an entrepreneur, the answer I came to was “fuck that!”.
What the hell is wrong with doing something similar (or even exactly the same) as someone else? Is it a reason not to try? A reason not to create? A reason not to experiment?
You don’t say to an artist that their painting looks like a Picasso, so stop painting. Who knows what it’s going to look like when finished? Maybe it ends up a unique masterpiece that engages the world — maybe it’s a study that leads to another work — maybe it’s no more than a sketch that lives the rest of it’s life gathering dust in the corner of the room. Who gives a flying shit!
For every project I undertake I see not as an end, but as one step in a long journey — part of a body of life work. I don’t friggen care if what I do bears resemblance to something that already exists. Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t. I choose not to care. This gives you the freedom to explore possibilities without limitation.
The immutable fact is, given a long enough period of time every company will decline. If you think out 20 years, do you think Google will still exist? Unlikely. What about 50 years? 100 years? At some point in the future Google’s tipping point will come, where it’s services become irrelevant and a new cool company takes its place. It’s inescapable for any company.
In fact, when Google started back in 1998 people told Larry Page and Sergey Brin “but search is over”. Did they listen?
Saying that XYZ’s leadership position is reason not to try is like a 5 year old passionate about swimming saying “I could never be a swimmer because Michael Phelps is too fast”.
So, nothing is constant. No market is ‘owned’. No competitor is ‘too big to beat’. Nothing has ‘been done’. It’s all in a constant state of flux. Hell, our Universe will come to an end one day.
In this context, someone proclaiming they’re going to “start the next Apple” or “compete with Google” are not such crazy notions. When I imagine a world even as close as 10 or 20 years out, I see a world dominated by brands, products and experiences that don’t even exist today.
At some point in time, the people that will create our future will start their crazy projects. And people everywhere will be telling them “but Google is doing that”.
Some founders won’t be listening.