Wee Willie Keeler was a Hall of Fame baseball player in the 1890’s. When asked the secret of his success he replied:
Keep your eye on the ball and hit ‘em where they ain’t.”
Willie manages to get two important startup principles into one short sentence! Focus is critically important in startup companies – thus “keep your eye on the ball”. Scope creep is the enemy of focus, watch out for it.
The second part of the sentence pertains to finding the so-called “white space” in a market, the unoccupied niche you can dominate. It also relates to the “blue ocean” theory (red oceans are bloody with competition, blue oceans are blue with opportunity). Here’s the book, which is well worth reading:
Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
My other Willie quote comes from bank robber Willie Sutton. When asked by a reporter why he robbed banks he replied, “Because that’s where the money is.”
Entrepreneurs sometimes forget that not all customers are created equal and can benefit by being reminded that given the same cost of customer acquisition going after deep pocketed customers can deliver a must better ROI than those who are not so well off.
This relates to the concept of lifetime value of a customer, a subject for another day.