Many founders wrongly believe they have to change the world to be successful.
Yes, some startups like Uber, Airbnb, and WeWork created new markets and changed how millions of people live. However, this doesn’t describe the experience of most successful early-stage ventures.
Even if there are well-established players in a market, buyers always want something better. If you can improve slightly on what the top companies are doing, you become the best. Or, you can zoom in on a specific sub-niche and capture market share that way.
Overall, there are many paths to break into a crowded sector. Here are a few tips to help you assess your market entry strategy.
1. Serve the Underserved
In any industry, there are customers who feel ignored by the existing options on the table. They may already subscribe to services or own products. However, they may still have unmet needs that large-scale businesses are unwilling to fulfill for a variety of reasons.
By serving the underserved, your business can attract a passionate following quickly. You can generate cash flow and start nipping at competitor heels before they even realize you exist.
If your young business is not designed to solve a problem you have experienced personally, interview prospective customers to learn what they think about existing offerings in the marketplace. Doing so will enable you to discover opportunities to differentiate yourself before you enter and spin your wheels on customer acquisition efforts.
2. Be the Best at Something
At first, it can be hard to compete with bigger companies that have presence in many areas across a broader industry. Your competitors may do many things well on multiple fronts, which can be intimidating for those who are just getting started.
Some startups mistakenly think they have to compete at the macro level immediately out of the gates. In reality, new entrants can separate themselves simply by doing one thing better than everyone else. A single point of differentiation can give a business all the clout it needs to get started in a busy industry.
3. Partner with Relevant, Tangential Brands
Another way to gain footing in a saturated market is to latch onto tangentially related brands that don’t directly compete in your space.
For example, an online retailer with a social mission can look for opportunities to work with established philanthropic organizations. A fintech startup that donates a portion of profits to environmental causes could team up with national park services.
By working with organizations that share similar extracurricular interests, you gain exposure to new audiences that would otherwise be hard to find. It’s important to ensure you have genuine intentions if you go down this route, as it will be hard to create meaningful partnerships otherwise.
4. Tell Your Story Well
Even if other startups and founders have similar past experiences, no one has traveled the same path as you and your team. Your story is unique -- guaranteed.
In crowded industries, customers have likely explored many flavors of offerings. Consequently, it can be hard to “wow” them with your product or business idea alone.
The way to stand out is by telling your story incredibly well. Doing so enables people to connect to your brand more intimately. It makes your startup more memorable and approachable.
Capture market share by highlighting who you are. If you share your backstory with pride, customers will gravitate towards your business because they care about you.
Earning a Seat at the Table
It’s easy for young founders and companies to get discouraged when trying to enter a new market, especially one that is full of well-known, established brands.
However, there is a way to earn a seat at the table. Get to know your customers intimately, discover niches that your competitors are overlooking, and be the best at serving those people. On top of that, align yourself with other well-known, related brands and tell your story with tremendous excitement.
At Funded.club, we understand how hard it can be to get started. We offer fixed-fee recruiting services, as well as consulting support to help founders find funding for their ventures.
Interested in learning more?
Contact us today.
Ray Gibson is founder and CEO of Funded.club. He brings 20 years of experience in recruiting across Europe, North America and Asia and 5 years running his own startups.