Entrepreneurs with a vision fear that someone, somewhere, somehow will capitalize on their idea.  How many times have you had a “great idea,” only to see that someone else has already launched that product or service?

In the last four months since Jacob and I began fleshing out Fellowstream, we have seen company after company launching project management tools.  Some of them are leveraging social media like we are, some of them have figured out there’s a gap between task management and project management, and still others have even used our taglines in their newsletters and blogs.  It can be heart-wrenching to see market forces at work when you think about the “what ifs”…

  • What if someone else finds our “secret sauce” and launches Fellowstream first?
  • What if I’m not good enough to spread the word about what we’re doing?
  • What if we’re aiming for the wrong market and someone else takes it?
  • What if our design doesn’t resonate with people?
  • What if we just wasted our good time and money building something people just don’t care about?

But no matter how many “what ifs” I come up with, there’s one that trumps them all.

What if we let fear stop us from creating something truly fantastic?

The truth is, Jacob and I just stepped into a ring filled with competition.  It only takes a guy and a computer to make online project management tools. But we believe in Fellowstream.  Even with 16 billion apps showing up every day, we still haven’t seen someone execute the type of bottoms-up-and-top-down approach we are taking with Fellowstream.

But let’s give fear a “reasonable voice.”  Let’s say, tomorrow morning, I fire up the ol’ laptop and see a Fellowstream clone, straight down to the curvy logo.  What should we do?

Traditional decision making models would tell us to throw in the towel.  This new product has “first mover advantage.”  It will gain more buzz, have more time to figure out flaws.  All we would have is a 3/4 finished alpha consisting of a bunch of sunk costs.

But we’d still finish Fellowstream anyway.  And it would be a great fight too.  Whether based on finding Fellowstream a new market, revamping its interface, adding/subtracting features, or just running a gajillion usability tests, we’d give it our best shot.

That’s the attitude that entrepreneurs need.  Fear need not apply.

-Deborah Fike

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