Relativity: Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs need to look at their businesses relative to the existing universe of companies and ideas to achieve goals. This requires work.    

Einstein, time, and gravity may be top of mind when thinking about the idea of relativity, but there are valuable parallels to draw upon as we think about our businesses.         

In the universe of entrepreneurs, there are some fundamental rules at play that make growth more likely, and that shape interactions through the system. These may not be as fundamental as gravity, but they are important nonetheless.

One of these is the idea of understanding relativity. Its importance stems from the fact that businesses function within a system of competing ideas and companies. If we launch the wheel, and there are already wheels out there, unless there is something different about what we are doing compared to others – we will not succeed. 

This may feel obvious, but all too often entrepreneurs are surprised when businesses fail to take off, because they haven’t done the work to truly understand their competitive landscape. As a result, they find that what they are doing isn’t as unique or differentiated from competitors as they believe – from their clients’ perspective. Since we generally love our babies, this is an easy trap to fall into.   

Research is key to understanding the relative differentiation of a product or company and to carving out a unique positioning that will resonate in the market. Seeing what we do as part of a system provides a framework for understanding whether we are likely to achieve our goals.  

Looking at what we do through the prism of relativity provides a path to better outcomes, but also the realization that a business or idea, does not have to be the greatest thing since sliced bread to be successful. Although there are many other dimensions to this, they just need to be better, relatively, than others in the market.      

Simon Erskine Locke is a director of University Innovations Global. He is an entrepreneur, writer and communicator. He is founder & CEO of communications agency and professional search and services platform, CommunicationsMatch™ and Townhub, a town-resident communications platform.

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