If You Can’t Be The First To Cross The Finish Line, Move The Racetrack

As an entrepreneur who became an MBA Professor at age 43, I’ve had the unique experience of living almost everything that I teach. In fact, I have never …

As an entrepreneur who became an MBA Professor at age 43, I’ve had the unique experience of living almost everything that I teach. In fact, I have never taught from a textbook. I have, however, required my students to read selected business books that teach the ‘fundamental principles’ of real-world business. One of those is a profound marketing book called the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing authored by Al Ries and Jack Trout. Wow, those guys hit it on the head. I have found all 22 of those laws to be dead-on.  

Here’s an important one. Who was the second American to fly solo across the transatlantic? Stumped? If you don’t know that answer, then who was first? Charles Lindbergh, of course. But why didn’t you know that Burt Hinkler was the second person? Don’t feel badly, it’s human nature. Almost everyone recalls who takes first, but rarely do we remember who places second.

Business is exactly the same. If your business can be the first one into your targeted market you can expect to be successful, even if new competitors eventually show up later with a better product or service. This particular law is… ‘He/she who get there first, gets the most’.

But how many times can you be the very first company in your market? Probably not many. So are you destined for mediocrity? No, you simply need to understand the next law of marketing – if you can’t be first in your market, create a new one. In other words, start a new niche. Miller beer couldn’t overtake Budweiser as the number one regular beer, so it started a new market – light beer. Likewise in Europe, Amstel could not overcome Heineken’s lead in regular beer, so it created a light beer in that market.

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So why should you care? Because as an entrepreneur you can be successful in outmaneuvering your competition by grabbing the mindshare of your customers that you are first – with the inference that you are also the best. If you can’t be the first person to cross the finish line, then change the configuration of the racetrack so that you can.

Here’s a personal example. My friends and I acquired a major interest in a company that manufactured conveyor systems used in circuit board manufacturing. There were tons of other competitors who moved also circuit boards through the multi-step manufacturing process. However, we found a way to clearly distinguish ourselves from the crowd. Instead of being an ordinary run-of-the mill manufacturer of conveyor equipment, we presented ourselves as the turnkey solution for customers who wanted one supplier to link all steps of their entire manufacturing process, not just the material handling equipment. The concept worked – extremely well. Our sales quadrupled in less than 12 months because our reputation exploded as the ‘first’ turnkey solution for the industry. Essentially, we created a completely new niche within a very old market.

As you strategize positioning your own products and services, I suggest that you seek several different ways to separate yourself from the crowd as the unmistakable leader in your market.

About The Author

Professor Jim Solomon
Entrepreneur, MBA Professor, Certified Public Accountant

Jim Solomon is an accomplished entrepreneur, MBA Professor and Certified Public Accountant who has helped dozens of large corporations and small businesses achieve phenomenal growth and value. His unparalleled ability to secure funding, boost revenues and create exit opportunities comes from hands-on experience and an enormous rolodex. 

To learn more about Professor Jim Solomon please visit www.professorjimsolomon.com and be sure to secure your free copy of his powerful new eBook, “Six Secrets To Starting Your Own Business”.


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