How to avoid the "Hey! That was my idea" trap

You have a great idea for a product/web site, right? So does someone else.

Last Updated: January 8th, 2007 • Develop •

If you're a programmer, you've probably experienced this before.

You come up with a great idea, research the market, and notice that no one else is doing what you're doing. You start coding and about one week/month later, everyone announces that they have the latest and greatest software product in the world that is doing exactly what you were building from the start.

Frustrating, isn't it?

You wanted to be the first to market and become the first company making the first buck on your first product. That's a lot of firsts, but lift your head up, brush yourself off, and keep these things in mind:

  • I always say that the scouts are the ones that take the arrows in this industry. Being first isn't always a good thing. Let your competition go first. There may be some features left out of their product, but are included in yours. Focus on those unique features as selling points and that may catapult you over them.
  • You're thinking on the same wave length as the company who is selling their product. That's a great thing. This means you are just as good as the people writing the software. As Apple says, you're thinking differently.
  • Push forward. Don't think that because someone came out with a similar product first doesn't mean that all your hard work is for naught. It's a big world. It's called competition. Compete!
  • If you're only a one/two/three person company, you are programmatically more nimble that the bigger companies of 200 programmers meeting everyday for an hour at a time deciding what design pattern to use for the entire project. The tighter knit of programmers, the better.

There is a lot of competition out there, but you need to trudge forward. It may seem frustrating at first, but this is where your creativity comes into play. Prove that your product has unique, flexible, and creative ways of solving problems and you'll have a profitable software product.

Picture of Jonathan Danylko

Jonathan Danylko is a freelance web architect and avid programmer who has been programming for over 20 years. He has developed various systems in numerous industries including e-commerce, biotechnology, real estate, health, insurance, and utility companies.

When asked what he likes to do in his spare time, he replies, "Programming."

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