As I mentioned earlier, for me success is about what, how, and work. This is my simple formula.
Anywhere my customers or potential customers express their problems and frustrations is a place for me to dig out opportunities. Forums, blogs, mailing lists, news groups, etc… Your what should be driven by your customers’ needs.
Most critical for success is how we do it. What sets us apart? What is our UVP? This is where following your best competitors closely, pays off.
Nobody is perfect. There is always a better way to do things or at least to appeal to another audience.
My approach is not to simply copy what my competitors are doing. This is the easiest path, but it is very difficult to stand out by just being another XYZ.
I prefer to look at my competitor’s solutions as their prescribed answer to customers’ specific problems. The key here is that what needs solving is the customer’s problem, and there is rarely a single solution. My solution is how I would solve it better leveraging my strengths.