Say you come up with a novel idea where you can't get any protection through patents etc. Whats the best way to protect yourself from the competition that will arise after you? For example. there is a company called Panna (pannacooking.com) that offers video cooking recipes. Novel idea, but nothing prevents someone from doing the same thing I don't think. What would a company like this do to fend off and compete with new comers in the market.
The best defence is a strong offence. Said another way, the best companies don't spend too much time looking in the rear-view mirror, and instead focusing on the drive ahead. Most web and mobile businesses are not defensible by true I.P but rather speed of execution, great design, responsive and caring customer support and a relentless concern for the customer. In the case of the example you provided, content quality and regular and timely updates are also key competitive differentiators.
I get asked some form of this question quite a lot...Mainly from new entrepreneurs or hopeful inventors.
My answer is: There's probably nothing you can do to prevent someone from jumping in and competing with you.
I say probably because it's possible for an individual or company to have a unique set of resources or skills that the potential competition does not have access to. In those cases competition is less of a "concern". But sooner or later even those advantages will give way and if there's money to be made - competition will step in.
The BIGGER challenge is that just having a novel idea doesn't guarantee anything. You can have a fantastic idea and fail. You can have an amazing service or product and go broke.
Creating a business is MORE than just having a great idea or a great product/service.
And business success comes from a combination of things - some you control and some you don't.
There will ALWAYS be competition. And thank goodness for that! Let it motivate and inspire you - to find unique ways to add value, serve markets, develop and deliver products and services. And if the competition steps in and challenges you - respond by being even MORE passionate about adding value.
For help on starting your project or business - or vetting your ideas - give me a call. I love working with passionate entrepreneurs.
Best of luck!
While it's tough to protect an idea in an unprotected market, some suggestions are:
1) Positioning: Stake your claim and let everyone know that yours was the "world's first ______." Claiming first-to-market can impress some people in your target audience.
2) Alliances: Sure, someone can copy your idea, but if you're first and you form strategic AND EXCLUSIVE alliances with partners who can either add value to or help you promote your idea (or better still, do both), the copycats out there won't be able to deliver the same added value or do as as easily. It also helps if you can form a partnership with a market leader who already has strength that a start-up business doesn't have.
3) Promotions: Again, your competition can copycat the idea of promotions, but if your promotions are clever, unique, and "keep 'em coming back for more," you'll have a better shot at developing a loyal and engaged customer base. Those customers might like your promotions so much, they can even bring you new customers! Speaking of...
4) Leverage Existing Customers: Use your existing customers as a way to help spread the word (e.g. via social media and other referral opportunities), You can even consider some kind of incentive or loyalty reward for doing so. I have first-hand experience as a customer of Blue Apron, and they do this well. Every so often they "gift" me with a free one-week trial to give to a friend. There's really nothing in it for me other than feeling like I'm doing something nice for a friend...but that's not a bad incentive!
Hope this helps.
Deliver an OUTRAGEOUS customer experience.
Anyone can copy an app, a product, a service, or an idea. It's silly to try to step on, stop, or otherwise spend much time thinking about your competition.
Be awesome and you'll always lead your industry.