It is less risky to start a business that builds on an existing business model or an existing technology than to introduce a new technology which can be very disruptive.
Many successful businesses have built their models on existing models or technology. For example, McDonald’s didn’t invent the fast-food model it only improved the cookie-cutter White Castle process.
The business model used by Wal-Mart was touted by Two Guys and Ben Franklin way back following World War II.
You can imitate a model with some innovation, this will give you a solid foundation for building experience as you will be treading on a path that is already beaten
To get your startup off the ground, you can observe the following:
Learn from the experience of early adopters and competitors
You can save a lot if you hinge on what other before you had experienced. You can learn a lot from the challenges they faced and how the managed to overcome them. Researching on these people will be easy since you will be dealing with data that exists – their customers, their market, how they survived during harsh economic times, etc.
Learning from them will greatly reduce your risk since you will already have solutions to the problems they faced.
Imitate but with continuous innovation
Borrow ideas but modify them in a creative way. The motor industry provides a good way of imitation with creativity. It is a business that has been developing gradually over the year and all these developments are well documented.
The basic principle behind motor vehicle remains the same, but different manufacturer just build on their creativity to come up with different brands. As the saying goes, you don’t need to re-invent the wheel.
Disruptive technologies will expose you to high risk and their success rates are very low. By building on something that already exists, you may eve surpass the original inventor.
There is always a market for your innovation
By imitating with innovation, you will be creating a product or a service that is almost similar to what is already in the market, but you will always find a related market or a new country that will accept your product or service. This is because startups can not saturate all the related markets at once because of their limited resources. Use your creativity to jump ahead of the pack.
Attract investors who fear untested technologies
Banks are more likely to support a business model that is a clone of an existing model but tend to fear like a plague any new and untested technologies.
Equity investors also avoid disruptive technology startups because they require a lot of money to start and take longer to give returns.
It may also not be easy to get a market for products or services that result from disruptive technologies and this will translate into high cost of advertisements and promotions.
As a final tip; look for a successful business, study its model then use your creativity to improve on the model then come up with your own startup.