Saturday, April 23, 2011

You Can't Steal Ideas - You Can Only Make Them Better

There's nothing new under the sun. There are millions of businesses across the world - most are just copies of each other. Starbucks is an awesome example:

Coffee is sold in millions of stores, restaurants - even on the Internet! And Starbucks doesn't exactly sell the cheapest Caramel Mocha Cappuccinos on the planet. So why do millions choose their brand over, say, McDonald's?

Next time you visit a fast-food restaurant, look at the employees. Look at the environment. Is it clean? Are the employees friendly and up-beat? How does it smell? Now, go to Starbucks and compare the two.

Forget about pricing - if both companies suddenly had a "Free Coffee Day", where would you rather go to get your coffee?

For me, it's a no-brainer: Starbucks. The reason? Well, there's actually more than 1 reason: McDonald's employees almost always look really bored and tired. They sound negative and dull. The restaurant usually smells like a mix between grease and someone's old socks. I've been to the playground before - dirt and ketchup droppings everywhere.

Now for Starbucks: love the place. You walk in and are immediately hit with the most wonderful aroma of all: coffee. You step up to the front counter and there is usually a display of pastries either to the left or right of you. They're set up nicely and look like they were made with care (not wrapped up in paper and tossed into a bag). 

Employees are friendly, positive, and ready to serve! There's no bored, "Welcome to McDonald's. May I take your order?". The bathrooms are clean, the floors are swept, and you can actually see what people are doing to your drinks.

You have two businesses that both serve the same thing (coffee), and even though one is cheaper (McDonald's), many prefer the other. Why? Because it's well put together. The environment is better - the experience is better.

A lot of people don't try an idea because they think they'd be "stealing" it. Not true. You can take any idea from someone else and turn it into your own business (one that's greater than the other). That's what Coca-Cola did (yeah, there was soda before Coke). It's what McDonald's did (they were not the first fast-food restaurant - though they did invent the drive-through window).

If you have a great idea that you think would compete with another's, then go for it. And remember: you can't steal ideas. You can only make them better.

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