What should I do if someone else is already selling my idea?

By J. Bryant

This is an all too common situation and one of the largest causes of discouragement for people striving to innovate.  The easiest reaction is always to throw in the towel and start over from scratch.  But is that the right reaction?  Lets examine several scenarios and then dig deeper to answer it for you.

Situation #1:  Somebody is selling the exact same idea you have

In this situation you discover someone is selling literally the exact same idea that you have or had.  This means that there are NO DIFFERENCES  in:

  • Function
  • Operation
  • Usage
  • Application
  • Technology
  • Features

If the idea you have matches your competitors ideas in most or all of the things in the list than you should consider re-working your idea until it matches situation #2.

Situation #2:  Somebody is selling a similar idea as the one you have

In this situation you find that there ARE major differences are in:

  • Function
  • Operation
  • Usage
  • Technology
  • Features

If the similar idea is literally only similar in perhaps application and is different in most or all other ways, than you might not have much to worry about.

Situation #3:  You aren’t REALLY sure if the idea is similar or not

This is the situation that will apply to most people who have discovered someone is already selling “their” ideas.  You think the idea is similar, maybe you’re even convinced, but you haven’t taken the time to discover how similar the ideas are.  So here’s some questions anyone in this situation should answer before they decide what to do.

  1. What are the major functional technologies of the other sellers product?
    1. Do these technologies match yours?
    2. Could you use a different technology to achieve the same outcome and improve the function of your idea?
  2. How does the other sellers product operate?
    1. Does it operate just like yours?
    2. Could you change something about your idea to improve its operation?
  3. How is the others sellers product used?
    1. Is it used just like yours?
    2. Could you change something about your idea to improve its usage or increase its usability for other markets?
  4. What are the major features of the other sellers product?
    1. Are they the same features as yours?
    2. Can you add or change features in your idea to improve performance, change or enhance it’s usage and operation, or increase its market?

If you have answered these questions and have defined the differences in your ideas than you have the tools to better understand what makes your idea different, and hopefully better than the competition.

So what do you do?

You want to be able to easily communicate to your customer how your idea solves their problem in a new, unique, and meaningful way.  You want to prove how your idea will do that by listing the unique features, and by citing the performance numbers that makes your idea not only unique, but better.

If you have found that you cannot answer these questions or you still aren’t sure we would be happy to set up a consultation with you to help you move forward.  If you understand better than ever how your idea is game changing and you want to move on to the next steps of development we would be happy to assist you in that process too.

Contact us at amc@maine.edu