When you get ready to do a new business venture of almost any kind, you should expect a lot of people to ask, "Isn't somebody already doing that?"

The answer is: I hope so.  If no one is doing it, or planning it, or offering a different version of it, there is likely no developed market for your business.  Competitors add legitimacy to your plans.  They help "soften" the market by reaching out to customers.  They also commit themselves financially to a specific way of doing things, and they create huge costs for themselves if they ever need to quickly change directions.  They help prove or disprove the viability of risky plans, and they pay the full cost for their mistakes.

The presence of competition isn't a reason to avoid a new business venture.  The whole point of a new venture is to offer customers a compelling reason to hire you, instead of the other options. 

Will Marlow co-founded AlumniFidelity to help his clients reposition their fundraising to benefit from Web2.0 technology and marketing techniques. He’s working with clients such as UVA, the College of William & Mary, the University of Oklahoma, Bowling Green State University, Randolph Macon College, and he loves nothing better than a thorny marketing challenge.  Email him at will@alumnifidelity.com