Follow The Leader?

I was never very good at this game when I was a kid. You get in a line, walk in lock step with all of the other kids doing exactly what everyone else is doing; what kind of stupid game is that. I guess I didn’t like it because I always wanted to be the leader.

Not to be too critical here but isn’t our industry a lot like this? Somebody creates a pillow top, then everybody has one. One-sided beds. MMAP. King for a queen sale. Free box spring. Memory foam. Gel memory foam. Hybrid. Shall I go on?

One of the reasons franchise businesses work is because the creator of that business develops a business plan, proves it out, and duplicates it as precisely as they can hoping to reproduce the success. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t copy some things that you see are working, but there has to be a point where you stand on your own in some sort of relevant way.

Which ocean are you swimming in?

I am bringing this up because my brother and I are about to launch an e-commerce business and this issue came up a lot as we looked out into the landscape of selling beds on-line. So what is the formula here?

  1. Good looking clean website that is significantly more hip than what the total industry represents.
  2. Foam/latex block 10-12″ thick.
  3. 100 night trial.
  4. Target price of around $800 queen.
  5. Include some sort of charity piece to the plan.
  6. Expand product assortment post launch.

There are certainly some variations out there so I don’t want to bucket everyone the same way but you have to admit, this covers a lot of it. Why is it that people want to follow instead of lead?

  • Leaders are targets so it’s not for everyone.
  • Requires less effort to take the easy path.
  • Don’t have creative thinkers.
  • Huge financial risk.
  • If you jump out there doing something different there is a much greater opportunity for your company to fail. For you to fail personally.
  • Busting out also requires some blind faith and that one isn’t easy.
  • It’s just harder.

My brother and I don’t know if what we have done is going to work. We could launch this thing and become the punch line to a joke. The one thing I will tell you about the project is that we will not look or feel the same as what you see in the market today. We have followed our instinct but more importantly, we have followed our hearts and pursued something that we believe will inspire people. How could that be, were just selling mattresses right?

In my career, I have tried to do things that are different because the idea of getting lost in the pack scares the crap out of me. Maybe it’s because I am a middle child and I am screaming for attention? Or maybe it’s because I believe that making small changes to the status quo gets you a small advantage. We’re about to find out. Curious?

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