Early Bird Catches the Worm: Why First Mover Advantage Matters to Everyone

What is the First Mover Advantage?

In business, as in life, being early and being first to launch products, enter markets and an agile and flexible approach to being there first matters.

As the saying goes, The Early Bird Catches the Worm, the first mover advantage is indeed significant and matters to everyone, including businesses, government, and individuals.

The first mover advantage is a term which means that whoever moves first and enters a market or launches a product way before others, or patents an invention before anybody does, has certain and significant advantages in terms of exploiting the unsaturated markets and reaping the benefits of a captive consumer base at least for the initial years or months before competition from other firms arises.

Real World Examples of First Movers

Indeed, as can be seen from the examples of the Big Tech Firms, being first and being early had their positives.

For instance, Bill Gates launched his Personal Computer innovation much before anyone else, though the Late Steve Jobs had already started with his Mac series. In addition, again Steve Jobs was the first to realize the power of the Smartphones and struck a Double Whammy by launching the iPhone that combined the awesome power of mobile computing with that of the amazing power of the software or the operating system, iOS.

The first mover advantage is significant to firms as when they enter a market before anyone else; they have the time to understand market movements and market trends as well as the luxury of determining the appropriate market strategies.

Moreover, first movers also tend to benefit from a captive consumer segment, who because of lack of alternatives, tend to buy the goods and services from the first mover firms.

First movers also have the bandwidth to assess future strategies without being bogged down by pressure from competitors.

In other words, the first mover firms often can realize significant benefits from entering markets before anyone else since the absence of competition means that they are not under time pressure or market pressure to respond.

Why First Movers Should Not Become Complacent

However, this is not to mean that they can become complacent as experience has shown that firms that are usually the first often become lethargic and tardy in their marketing strategies to be outdone by nimble and agile startups and competitors who often mimic the strategies of the first movers and beat them at their own game.

Indeed, this is what happened to the pioneer of Smartphones, Blackberry, which feeling comfortable in its market dominance failed to sense and intuit how the iPhone and its later competitors would pull the rug under its feet and render it obsolete.

If not anything, the experiences of once invincible firms who were the first movers being dethroned by newer and more flexible firms teaches us that while first movers do enjoy certain advantages, they should not take their market dominance for granted.

First Movers and Upstarts in a 24/7 World

This is especially the case in the present times when the 24/7 continuously on market landscape needs constant vigilance and agility to sense market trends and respond to rivals and competitors before they undercut you.

Indeed, the fact that marketing these days happens in real time means that being a first mover is a double edged sword wherein initially everything is hunky dory and once, rivals get the hang of the market, then the ensuing free for all means that no matter who is the first mover, the only thing that matters is your performance in the last quarter or the last financial year.

Hence, this is a cautionary tale for any first mover who lapses into inertia due to the comfort of being there first and realizes that they have missed the start of the next race because they were unable to rouse themselves in time.

Why First Mover Advantages Matter to All

Therefore, it is clear that anyone whether a first mover or a late entrant has to be “on the ball” all the time so that they do not lose their privileges. This has implications for all, whether they are businesses or working professionals or aspiring professionals and students.

For instance, often business schools teach the virtues of first mover advantages with an added discussion on how the professionals of the future would need to move in first and be there early before anyone does.

Thus, if you are applying for jobs, be aware that you are competing with potentially thousands of other graduates and more if you are competing online and hence, stay alert and be there first before anyone does.

This can take the form of scanning the job sites for prospective employers and blasting your resumes to any number of employers so that you grab their attention and sustain their interest until you are hired.

Indeed, with research showing that the average time a recruiter spends on a resume being under a minute and with recent studies pointing out how recruiters typically shortlist aspirants based on Big Data and AI driven algorithms, your chances of getting hired would depend to a great extent on how early you were in the rat race.


Lastly, with the world becoming more faster and accelerated by the day, it makes sense to realize the importance of first mover advantages and plan and prepare your strategies accordingly. You might not be the best, but, if you are the first, there are enough chances that you can compete with the best by dint of your ability to sense and intuit and predict what happens next.

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