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A long long time ago, in a place not too far away …

Two armies stood against each other on the different sides of the hills. One was attacking in hope of conquering the land the other was defending. Both are fully armed but none dared to the first move. To attack meant descending down the hill & then making a suicidal climb up on the enemy’s side. For weeks, they merely looked at each other from across the ravine.

Finally, one army could not take it anymore & challenged the other to send their greatest warrior down into the valley to resolve the deadlock one on one. The Challenger sent a giant. He was at least six foot nine, wore a bronze helmet & a full body armour. He carried a javelin, a spear & a sword. His attendant preceded him, carrying a large shield. As the giant faced his enemy, he shouted to them: “Choose your man & let him come down to me! If he prevails against me in battle & strikes me down, we shall be slaves to you. But if I prevail & strike him down, you will be slaves to us & serve us.” Seeing the humongous opponent, none of the defending soldiers dared to come forward. Who would win against such a terrifying opponent?

A little shepherd boy happened to bring food to his brothers saw the whole incident stood forward & volunteered himself. Many objected, for fear of losing their freedom & country. This child is a fool, they thought to themselves. Without much hesitation, the young shepherd grabbed his slinger, picked up five smooth stones & ran down the hill. The giant feeling insulted, cried out loud as he saw the young boy coming: “Come to me, I will feed your flesh to the birds of the heavens & the beasts of the field.” And that began one of the history’s most famous battles. The battle took place three thousand years ago in the Valley of Elah. The giant’s name was Goliath. The shepherd boy’s name was David.

The story of David & Goliath is not new to many of us but have you asked yourself how did the little shepherd boy defeat the giant Goliath? Is it merely just merely luck that his slinger hit the giant at the right spot? Or is there something more to that? I will come to the answer in a short while.

Statistics have shown that almost 92% of startups failed within the first 3 years. There are many reasons such as hiring the wrong people, poor financial planning, lack of unique selling proposition in their products or services etc. But the truth is, many also tend to go with the majority; doing what others have already been doing. They do not have a working business model that differentiate themselves from their competitors! But the question remained; why go against the big players? Why not do what they have done which has proven to be successful? But my question to you is this; can you fight the big boys head-on?

The big boys are just like Goliath who had everything to ensure success! To protect himself, Goliath wore a tunic made up of many layers of overlapping bronze fishlike scales. He had a heavy bronze helmet protecting his head & carried with him three weapons, all optimised for close combat. With a long thrusting javelin capable of penetrating any shield, a short-range spear, a sword to his hip & not forgetting his strength, it is no surprise why no one will come forward to fight Goliath! Why about our young shepherd boy David?

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As David was running towards the giant, he puts one of the stones into the leather pouch of his slinger & fires at Goliath’s exposed forehead. The giant falls, pretty much stunned. David seizes the giant’s sword & with a swift blow, he decapitates him. Seeing their defeat, the enemy fled. The battle is miraculously won by an underdog. The story of David & Goliath has become a metaphor for the improbable victory. But here is something that many do not know.

The winning advantage that others failed to see

David without armour has the speed & manoeuvrability advantage. Aiming his projectile at the giant’s forehead – his only point of vulnerability, David fires his first shot at Goliath & brought the latter to his knees. By the way, recent studies show that hurling a typical-size stone from 35 metres with a velocity of thirty metres per second is more than enough to penetrate Goliath’s skull & render him unconscious or dead.

What could Goliath do under a second or two? He was heavily geared & armed; all these probably weigh more than a hundred pounds. He was all ready to take on another heavily-armed infantry at close range, where he could stand immobile, warding off blows with his armour. When he first saw David, he was surprised, insulted. But soon his surprise turned to horror as he came to realise that the battle he was expecting had suddenly changed shape. In fact, the giant’s strength which is his size, armour & weapons had become his greatest weakness. The important lesson that we can learn from this is; the powerful & strong are not always what they seemed.

* The world record for slinging a stone was set in 1981 by Larry Bray at 437 metres. However without a doubt, at that distance, accuracy suffers.

Why do many people not start the business that they have always dreamt about?

I have heard this many times & I am sure you have as well. People always give me excuses such as: “You think it is easy to start a new business? Everything that makes money, someone would already be doing it!”. To me, that is a loser’s mentality. Weren’t there anyone already selling burgers or fried chickens when McDonalds & Colonel Sanders decided to set up their businesses? In the case of McDonald’s, the McDonald brothers had already seen the trend of people needing fast food on the move and responded to it. But it took a master salesman and marketing to make it take off exponentially.

Also read: [Discussion] What is more important for startup success? The product? Or the founder?

What about Facebook? Were they the first? Absolutely not! MySpace was way ahead of them. Make another guess, who started the first internet search engine? Google?

The “Archie search engine” was the first to be created in 1990. Those who follow after includes Alvista, Yahoo, Lycos & MSN before the domain “Google” was only registered on 15th September 1997. Being the first-mover, there is an advantage but without innovation, the services or product will not stay at the top for too long.

A first-mover advantage can be simply defined as a firm’s ability to be better off than its competitors as a result of being first to market in a new product category. We find it useful to distinguish between durable first-mover advantages, which improve a firm’s market share or profitability over a long period, and those that are short-lived. Although no advantage lasts forever, firms that succeed in building durable first-mover advantages tend to dominate their product categories for many years, from a market’s infancy until well into its maturity.

Opportunities are everywhere

Till now, you will agree that being the biggest or the earliest player in the market does not mean they are invincible. Successful entrepreneurs do not focus on challenges but he is aware of them. He studies the market, the competitors & growth potential. Do you know which was the word I heard the most in 2016? The word is not “Pokemon” but rather, “Disruptor”! The World is moving so fast these days that in the very near future, many jobs will be redundant as technologies overtake the need for a human to do the job. If you can fill the gap so that your services or products will always be in demand, you are on the right track. If not, perhaps you should take a step back & ponder over; are you the disruptor or the disrupted?

Do you have what it takes to make the difference?

Successful entrepreneurs focus on their goals rather than their challenges. While many people dream of success, few can fully understand that only takes a shift in their mindset & that is what it takes to make the difference.

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