There is no such thing as a new idea.
There. I've said it. And even Mark Twain agreed with me.
"There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations."
The vast majority of successful businesses are built on existing ideas. Whether it's newer technology, better execution, more creative marketing, quirkier branding, better customer service, more unusual ingredients, or whatever, it's all just different ways of improving on an existing concept.
Coming up with brand new ideas isn't what differentiates most businesses.
Facebook wasn't the first social media site. Google wasn't the first search engine. Steve Jobs didn't invent the first cell phone. Disney wasn't the first amusement park.
The question is, how do you turn competition to your advantage?
(1) Yay! Your idea is already validated
If you find that others are already doing what you want to do, don't be discouraged. This is actually good news. It means that there's a market for your idea. Other people have already done the market validation for you. And you have a starting point from which your idea can grow.
(2) Easier market research
Having competition also means that you know there are people out there who can help you do market research. You can listen to them and ask questions about what they truly want and need. What's missing in the existing idea? What would people be willing to pay for that isn't there? What frustrates them about the existing solution? There is a goldmine of information out there that will help you create something that people truly want, so you won't have to waste time guessing what may or may not sell.
(3) Potential followers
Marketing your business is all about getting in front of the right people. If someone's already doing what you want to do, you know who those people are! You can easily identify them by visiting a competitor's major social media platforms and checking out their followers. That will give you a lot of insight that will help you grow your own following.
(4) Learn from other people's mistakes
Every business makes mistakes. And you can learn from them and avoid making the same blunders yourself.
The internet gives you easy access to your competitors' history, including the mistakes they made and their customers' complaints. It can take time to research a competitor, but it's well worth the effort.
(5) Helps you refine your niche
Your competition can help you identify your point of difference - what sets you apart.
Look at what your competitors are offering and, more importantly, what they are NOT offering. Is there a gap in the market you can fill? Is there something you can do better than anyone else? Are there things you feel should be done differently? Do you have opinions that go against the status quo? Will the market welcome a totally new approach?
Nobody can do it the way that you do it
So, don't freak out if you find that your brand new business idea is not new at all. Instead, think of it as proof that other people are already making money doing what you want to do.
And remember, only you can bring your unique blend of knowledge, experience and perspective to your business and your clients. Ultimately, that's what's going to differentiate you from your competitors.