There are many businesses that start out filling a need for a specific type of customer. Sometimes this leads to the creation of a new industry or segment that was ignored or unserved by incumbents.
If the business does everything right, they will be the leader for that new category, segment or industry. The problem arises when that leader stops paying attention to what started it all: the customer.
And instead focuses on the competition. They rely more on watching, reacting and matching. As an upstart you can take advantage of this. But an established business needs to keep in mind that customer discovery never ends; the customer keeps evolving and so does his / her needs.
When companies lose sight of their customs and focus on their competitors, they can make the same mistakes their competitors make. And if you’re looking at what competitors are doing, you’re following. Because whatever they just launched they started building three or 6 months ago and so whatever you launch is they will be building the next thing whenever you catch up.
Don’t look at your product as a list of features, because there can be a couple of features that really matter. It’s not about having the most features, but doing a few things better than everyone else.
The way I view being customer focused, instead of competitor focused, is thinking about how your product / service will transform your customers. Where are you taking them? Who do you want them to become?
As a business leader, ask yourself: Do our competitors drive our vision or do we? What vision do we have for our customers?