Sam Altman

Competitors are a startup ghost story. First-time founders think they are what kill 99% of startups. But 99% of startups die from suicide, not murder. Worry instead about all of your internal problems. If you fail, it will very likely be because you failed to make a great product and/or failed to make a great company.

99% of the time, you should ignore competitors. Especially ignore … [ Read more ]

Zhang Ruimin

You and your rivals have access to virtually all the same resources. Only by constantly thinking of new ways to reorganize these factors can you differentiate yourself. It’s like poker. Everyone has the same number of cards. It’s how you play your hand that matters.

Rita Gunther McGrath

Industry is a very traditional concept in corporate strategy. Industrial organization economics says that the structure of the industry determines the profitability of the firms within it, and those firms with favorable positions within an industry will outperform those with less favorable positions. I would argue that is a dangerous idea because in many sectors, the most significant competition you’re going to face will come … [ Read more ]

Donald Kress

The real question isn’t how well you’re doing today against your own history, but how you’re doing against your competitors.

William Cohen

A firm that continues to employ a previously successful strategy eventually and inevitably falls victim to a competitor.

Max Klein

People are afraid to compete because they prefer to pretend they could have won if they played, than to know that they played and lost.

Michael Porter

Paradoxically, the enduring competitive advantages in a global economy lie increasingly in local things—knowledge, relationships, and motivation that distant rivals cannot match.

Roger Martin

Real competitive advantage is enormously long-lived. …To be sure, first mover advantages can vaporize quickly, but not all first mover advantages are backed by a real competitive advantage. So if I hear the demise of MySpace cited once more as evidence that competitive advantage has become more transient, I will puke. All it proves is the basic rule of business: that which can be … [ Read more ]

Clayton Christensen

If you’re focused on the job that has to be done, you’ll be more likely to catch the next technology that does it better. If you frame your business by product or technology, you won’t see the next disruptor when it comes along.

Henry Chesbrough

Companies will increasingly compete on the breadth, depth, and quality of their communities that surround their activities.

Andrew Ehrenberg

In practice, competitive brands are mostly very similar. Michael Porter’s “sustainable competitive advantage” suffers from two disadvantages: Competitive advantages seldom exist; and if they do, they are rarely sustainable.

Almost any difference between brands that makes a difference in sales gets copied very quickly. “The trends in our technology lead to competing products being more and more the same,” the famed advertising guru James Webb Young … [ Read more ]

Paul Lee Tan

My competitors do more for me than my friends. My friends are too polite to point out my weaknesses, but my competitors go to great expense to advertise them. My competitors are diligent, efficient and attentive, and would take my business away from me if they could. They keep me alert. They force me to search for new ways to improve my products and services. … [ Read more ]

Joel Kurtzman

War is war—and very different from business. In war, your enemy is hidden on the other side of the hill and is waiting there to surprise and destroy you. Your enemy is an army or air force or navy, like you, and the match is like chess.

But in business, the enemy is more like the old comic-strip character Pogo once said: “We have met the … [ Read more ]

A. A. Vandegrift

Positions are seldom lost because they have been destroyed, but almost invariably because the leader has decided in his own mind that the position cannot be held.

Michael E. Raynor and Daniel Littmann

Competition typically focuses on one of two dimensions—either functionality, as in speed, reliability, or power; or convenience, such as ease of use or customization. Whichever is more valuable to the customer is the basis of competition in a market at that time. Dominating a market is a function of delivering more of the kinds of performance that matter to customers than your competitors can. The … [ Read more ]

Jeffrey R. Immelt, Vijay Govindarajan, Chris Trimble

A successful reverse innovation effort can result in cannibalization of a company’s existing lines of business. that is certainly true, but it is not a justification for remaining inert. If a business can be destroyed, then it eventually will be destroyed. It is only a matter of whether you do it to yourself or a rival does it to you.

Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad

An organization’s capacity to improve existing skills and learn new ones is the most defensible competitive advantage of all.

Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad

There is an important distinction between barriers to entry and barriers to imitation.

Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad

Competitive innovation works on the premise that a successful competitor is likely to be wedded to a recipe for success. That’s why the most effective weapon new competitors possess is probably a clean sheet of paper. And why an incumbent’s greatest vulnerability is its belief in accepted practice.

Eric D. Beinhocker

A study of the performance of more than 400 companies over 30 years reveals that firms find it difficult to maintain higher performance levels than do their competitors for more than about five years at a time. Long-term superior performance is achieved not through sustainable competitive advantage but by continuously developing and adapting new sources of temporary advantage and thus being the fastest runner in … [ Read more ]