Invent a Product – And Then Make it Obsolete


“We cannot remain consistent with the world save by growing inconsistent with our past selves.” – Havelock Ellis (The Dance of Life, 1923)

Very few products — and very few companies — can survive without change. What works today in the current market will almost certainly fail 10 years from now.

Work hard to make your product or service unique and valuable. And then as soon as you’ve done that, find ways to make it obsolete.

You want to improve your product now, because right now your product is competing in an active marketplace where consumers are looking for the best deal and competitors are looking to steal your best ideas. By identifying a USP (unique selling proposition) that involves both something you are good at and something your customers really want, you can secure a safe and possibly dominant selling position that will last … at least for a while.

But while you are doing that, go out and find completely new and better products that do the same thing as your product is doing but better in some way. Do that or find a way to improve your product so drastically that it can no longer be called by the same name.

This is a process that usually takes a good deal of time and involves a lot of trial and error. That’s why you have to start now — while your existing product is still selling well. Because if you wait till things start to fall apart, it will probably be too late.

When you take the market lead, everybody is out there trying to knock you off. Don’t waste your time trying to prevent them from doing so. Instead, spend your time and energy making your product obsolete. That way, by the time someone has something as good as you have, you’ll be ready to introduce the new and better thing.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]