The Problem With Being The First

In my previous post I talked about how you would probably be the first at starting a new, fill in the blank, in Egypt and how awesome that is. But as you might have guessed from the title, being the first or having those 'don't count' competitors also has its drawbacks. If they were not avoided, being the first would become your weakness rather than your strength. Did you think life was that simple!

This applies to startups in general; it's not specifically just in Egypt but pretty much everywhere. I've had the chance to work in several startups that are all leaders in one thing or another, and from my work experience I've noticed two main drawbacks.

Drawback 1: Competition spices things up, and you've got none.

Being the first means having no competitors, or again those 'don't count' competitors -like other small startups, previous paused projects or attempts- if you have a great product that full fills a pretty wide market, is demanded and on top of all that no competition, then this my friend is the definition of bliss! But there is always a but; sometimes having no competitors makes you worry less, makes you slower and you'd find things progress at a sloth rate.

If you are motivated by threats and not opportunities then that's you right there, slothing your way to success. For example, you only take rapid action when a 'doesn't count' competitor makes a huge move, or when a major team player is about to leave, or you only hustle when a deal is almost off the table or the deadline is just two days away. And on the other hand, you chillax when an opportunity presents itself, not to be mixed with taking an opportunity, you would, but you wont take it and run towards your goal, it wont give you that adrenalin rush, that push that would make you leap towards your goal. You are only motivated when disasters happen; it's what kicks in your survival instincts. Other than that you're cool with it.

I don’t think I need to explain why this doesn’t end well. 

Drawback 2: You are standing still, unlike time. 

This drawback happens somewhere down the road, if being the first is still your only selling point, then you are pretty much screwed. It's awesome that you've lead the way, anticipating that one day others will follow -if you are in denial then this is a whole other problem. And when others do follow, they won’t respect that you're the first and they won’t bow down and tell you go ahead, no please, you first. Because, why should they!

If three years later you keep saying I am the first coworking space, I am the first incubator, I am the first design studio, or even, I offered this workshop the first, but this is not reflected on where you are now, meaning you had more time ahead than anyone else, but now you are waaaay behind; you did not widely spread, you did not majorly expand, there is no much development or any notable progress, then saying you are the first will certainly backfire!

When I look at one of those businesses now I would identify whether they have a slow or fast progress rate, and where they are compared to their competitors nowI think being the first does matter, there is a reason why businesses always advertise it. However, if you fall for these drawbacks, then constantly promoting 'being the first' will actually do more harm than good, and it wont matter, not even a little bit.