Does being competitive translate into success?

I found out today that one of our competitors has been speaking unfavorably about us to our clients… even before we’ve launched a product. I am not sure if this is just jocking for position, fear of a startup, or typical of this competitor. Inevitably, business is in part about your competition and how can you be faster, cheaper, and better. But I think that if you create substantial value in the marketplace, you will position yourself to have a sustainable competitive advantage. Lastly, our ultimate goal is to not displace a company, but to solve a problem and provide a valuable resource to consumers.

I definitely see the value in showing how you are better, faster, and cheaper than your competition. But in this case, I am not completely sure this is a great strategic move by that competitor. Here is my reasoning:

1) Fear of a new startup before they have even launched show weakness in positioning. If your only competitive advantage is to rely your sales ability, then your product/value proposition to your clients is weak.

2) You want to create friends, not enemies. Even in an ultra-competitive business environment, you never know who knows who and when you will need a strategic partnership, advice, or help. Think about how many times you said to yourself, “I wish I were nicer to that person.”

3) You should be focused on your product, community, and clients. YouTube wasn’t focused on Metacafe, Facebook wasn’t focused on CollegeTonight, and Yelp wasn’t focused on Judy’s Book. They all focused on their community of users.

I am definitely a paranoid individual, obsessed with how to solve problems, execute ferociously, and create incredible value. But I also realize that there were startups before us, there will be thousands of startups after us, and our focus will be on our product. The rest will fall into place.

I say create your own revolution!

On a side note, here is a list of my competitors/people in the industry I am very impressed with:

1)  Dan Daugherty,  Ex-Googler, super smart, providing a great solution, and I love his vision.

2)  The folks at ApartmentGuide.  I am very impressed with their professionalism.

3)  Cindy Park, Prometheus. Berkeley educated, sees all the angles, and is very analytic.  I know she’s doing great things for her company.  Not really a competitor, but she rocks.

4)  Dave Dugdale,  Helpful, kind, honest, and generous individual.  Always willing to share and discuss new ideas.