The common pursuit of many people is to pioneer things. This holds in the worlds of business and entrepreneurship. From a certain angle, there are benefits to breaking new ground. After all, even disruption is something that brings immense benefits to entrepreneurship. The harsh reality, though, is not everyone can be a pioneer or disruptor. Be it in business or entrepreneurship; most people come second or late. This can necessitate the need to fast follow. These three aspects are not as bad as you might think. Let us unpack why being a second mover, latecomer, or fast follower has advantages.
Being A Fast Follower
What Is Fast Following
Fast following is a concept mainly employed by startups whereby one establishes a business or company by copying a business idea or existing model. The principle is to copy one that has been proven to work, and the crux is to quickly adopt (even enhance) the approaches of the one you are copying. Often the ones copied tend to be referred to as first movers. In 2019 I covered a lot on the subject of fast following. Kindly check out the article titled the business concept of fast following to learn more. I also did an article on why fast-follower apps are struggling in Zimbabwe, and it can give you some insights to note about being a fast follower.
Advantages Of Fast Following
Anyways, there are several benefits you can enjoy by being a fast follower. Understand that the fast follower will be following the first mover. The first mover is typically overwhelmed by many things because they will break new ground. They learn by actually making mistakes, and you will learn by observing when they made mistakes and how they addressed them. As a fast follower, you will be most preoccupied with avoiding their mistakes and refining the good. The first mover cannot just lure customers like that, and they have to invest in teaching prospects first and then sell to them. When you move in as a fast follower, you will be like an alternative. This means you will have less work since you have to prove you have a better value proposition.
Being A Second Mover
What It Means To Be A Second Mover
Being a second mover means coming after the first mover(s). If you are quick, you must have noticed what this somewhat implies. In a way, a second mover is a fast follower. However, it would be best to get it right – the two are not always the same. Second-mover copying or mimicking a first-mover is essentially a fast follower. A second mover who is not copying or mimicking a first mover is just that, a second mover. That is why we can separate the two. It is a subtle distinction some may overlook.
Advantages Of Being A Second Mover
Being a second mover comes with less stress and strain on your effort and resources. As a second mover, you will most likely do little market research and will not be overwhelmed with educating the market from scratch. There are much lesser risks for the second mover as well. The customer acquisition costs (CAC) tend to be lower when you are a second mover. Overall, the second mover enjoys the advantages a fast follower enjoys.
Being A Late Comer
Being A Late Comer – What it Means
Being a latecomer business or startup means coming onto the scene late. This may be deliberate in some cases. For instance, you can have a business or startup idea and choose to wait for others to step in first. Then at a strategic point, you launch into the market. Sometimes it is not deliberate per se. A business or startup idea may have just dawned on you late (or later). It depends, but the bottom line is being a latecomer is not outright wrong.
Advantages Of Being A Late Comer
Being a latecomer may seem like it is not the best, but it has its advantages. When you are a latecomer, you have precedents to work with. This is because a whole industry or market will be there to learn from. You have historical information to draw insights from. I often underscore the importance of conducting market research before starting a business or startup. One thing I mention is studying existing players in your domain of interest. If you are a latecomer, you have many existing players to learn. This benefits you from not falling into the same pits they fell in. You will be able to right their wrongs and perfect their rights. In many ways, it is significantly cheaper, materially and immaterially, to come in as a latecomer.
Nothing is cast in stone here when all is said and done. You have seen that being a second mover, latecomer, or fast follower has advantages, and this means you must weigh the merits of your circumstances, context, and industry. Understandably not many ever get to enjoy being a first mover, and the vast majority get to choose from being a second mover, fast follower, or latecomer.