Why Being Second in the Game Can Lead to Greater Success in Business | Entrepreneur
By Roy Dekel • Feb 23, 2023
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Many people assume that being the first to enter a market is a crucial factor for success. But being a second player in a market, as sneaky as it may sound, can provide unique opportunities for growth and success.
Think about companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon. They were not the first players in their respective markets, but they leveraged their position as second movers to create unique value propositions, differentiate themselves and eventually become industry leaders.
Google was not the first search engine, but it created a user-friendly and efficient search experience that changed the game. Amazon was not the first online retailer, but it created a seamless and convenient shopping experience that transformed the industry.
The first player can't always hide what they've done from almost anyone. You know their successes and failures, which means you can use them to your benefit.
You can borrow from what worked for them in order to replicate their success. By examining why some things worked for your predecessor, you will be able to apply those lessons to your own version of the game — especially if they were playing on a similar platform or with similar resources that you have access to now.
If something didn't work out very well for them, then maybe it wasn't such a great idea after all! Learning how not to do something gives us valuable insight into what really works when it comes time for us (or someone else) to try again later down the road with another iteration or spinoff project using slightly different rules or parameters than before.
Second players have a leg up because they can learn from the mistakes of the first players. They can also innovate beyond them.
You see, when you're a first player, there are certain things that you just don't know how to do yet. You might not know exactly what your customer wants or how to deliver it in the best way possible. That's why second players often come in and find ways to improve on your work — they know what works and doesn't work, and they're willing to experiment with new ideas while also having a deeper understanding of what makes customers tick than you'll ever have at this point in time (since you're still figuring things out).
Winning is overrated. You don't always have to win first.
In business and in life, it's important to remember that being second means you can learn from the mistakes of your competition and innovate beyond them. Here are some examples of successful businesses that have done just that:
Apple was not the first computer company; it was second behind IBM, but it learned from its competitor's mistakes and came up with innovations like the mouse and graphical user interface (GUI).
The Michael Jordan brand was built on Nike's failures — they lost out on signing him twice because they didn't believe he would be good enough for their company image at the time, but MJ eventually signed with Adidas (who then later sold him back to Nike).
In conclusion, being second can be an advantage in many ways. It allows you to learn from the mistakes of others but also gives you time to come up with your own innovations that could make your product even better than what was before it. So, if someone asks me who was the first person to "walk on the moon," I would tell them it wasn't Neil Armstrong but Buzz Aldrin.