My idea is for a cloud-based web application aimed at undercutting/replacing current enterprise desktop applications which currently exist in my industry/profession which help with data analysis and decision making. More recently, licensing restrictions have hampered the sharing/distribution of the software to a point in which it is restrictive to use between multiple offices (the most commonly used software is locked to individual users on ONE computer), while at the same time licenses are prohibitively expensive in terms of cost. Bottom line, the software vendors have expensive products which have been slow to adapt to changing market conditions. Is it a fool's errand to take on an established industry? Is it possible to undercut the traditional enterprise software model with a highly portable (cloud-based), low cost product to drive? Will established competitors simply replicate my idea, rendering my development work moot? Do I research the web technologies more right now (I have some good ideas)? Do I write a business plan first and try to get advice on how to proceed from there? Help! Don't mind all my questions, I'm new to this. Thanks!
The two answers here are right in a sense to call to your attention what a challenging endeavour it will be, should you decide to pursue this, but neither actually answer your question as you've stated it.
You should begin developing this idea by doing customer development with other peers in your industry (outside your own organization) to see if they share your frustration with the current solution and share your enthusiasm for an idea of how it could be made better. Since you're active in this industry already, it should give you a breadth of contacts to reach out to. I'd encourage you not to ask friends or people who you have a very close relationship with as they are more likely to tell you what you want to hear.
After you've validated that you're not the only one frustrated by the current solution, I'd look at building a prototype that is able to illustrate your vision in sufficient way to begin speaking with real potential customers. It *sounds* as if there may be some regulatory or practical IT issues that might threaten the simplicity of a prototype, but sufficient to say, this is the next step in the process.
If you've been able to demonstrate demand for your solution as illustrated in the prototype, then you're well on your way. Of course, there is a *lot* of complexity in just these two steps alone and I'd be happy to discuss this.
To answer the other parts of your question:
It's a waste of time to write a business plan. You can look at "Lean Canvass" as a means to inform your thesis and keep track of it's validation and evolution.
Established competitors will not move nearly as fast as you and can't "start from scratch." If you're very successful, they will copy you, but it's likely that it won't hurt your business too much if you get to the point where they are wanting to copy you.
I run a venture-backed enterprise software company and have helped many Clarity members through questions of this exact nature. I encourage you to read my reviews and book a call if you'd like to talk through these questions in more detail.
Your enthusiasm and sense of urgency both come through strongly in your question...
And your enthusiasm is awesome! But I'd recommend you slow down a bit regarding a search for how to develop the idea.
Almost every new entrepreneur starts with "I have an idea for a product..." and unfortunately that statement usually also leads them down the proverbial rabbit-hole.
I'd strongly suggest you find a coach / mentor to help you work your way through this critical time. I've personally been down that rabbit-hole and learned that even the best product can go nowhere with the Ready-Fire-Aim approach.
Your questions indicate you are overwhelmed and not sure what steps to take. I'd warn you to be wary of anyone offering a "blueprint" or "solution" they can sell you that suggests they can make it easy for you.
The journey you are (potentially) about to embark on is no easy journey. But you should rejoice in that challenge. Remember - no risk... no reward.
It's a delicate balance - keeping your head in the clouds but your feet on the ground. But that's something every entrepreneur with vision has to contend with.
Give me a call - I can help you work through this initial stage.
In any case - I sincerely wish you the best of luck as you move forward!
It's essential to ensure the viability of any software will outlast the development period (inc. alpha and beta). What you need is a clear plan to solve the fact that you are new at this market, as well as identify with specific avenues to deploy the services in a financially viable way. I don't think it's a fools errand to take on an established market at all if you work a multi-pronged strategy allowing short term low hanging fruit to benefit the bigger deals simultaneously your business could well thrive.
The trick is to limit your risk, not avoid opening shop because of the likelihood of being copied. In your shoes I would work through this with someone.
I have knowledge on apps, software, and licensing as well as a far established reputation with helping over 1,000 early-stage businesses like yours (feel free to check me out on Google and you'll see just what I mean) and I'm happy to have a 15-30 minute power-talk with you this week to give you the most pertinent things to think about.
In any conversation you have with myself (or another Clarity expert), I would recommend the focus would be to provide you with; an understanding of the challenges you are likely to face, what kind of team you need to carry this dream through to reality, what financial needs you'll have to make it happen, what channels you would need to exploit to get some early wins, a DEFINED specific action plan of things you can do in the next 4 weeks to move forward to prove that it's not worth doing so, and finally what YOU need to do to make YOURSELF the kind of entrepreneur to carry this off.
If I were in your shoes I would demand that kind of clarity. That's what you need right now.
If you feel ready to get help practical support on this, reach out and click "Talk To Marsha" below, and I'll see what I can do to get you in my schedule this week.
All the best!