The second person to install a urinal in a building wasn’t an artist, he was a plumber, following the blue prints.
“When Duchamp put a urinal in a gallery, he was an artist. The second guy to do it was a plumber. Be first! “
In more and more markets, the originator of the idea reaps an enormous share of the benefits. One reason is that the attention gained is so rapid. Another is that once you gain that spotlight and reputation, it’s easier to create and cultivate that platform into a foundation for your next project (which should always be part of your business development plan). And most of all, when the attention you gained is valuable, earning that attention with innovation is priceless.
Yes, there are many exceptions, especially for those you that bring either service , price, or reliability along with an existing idea. Remember, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to have a successful business. Just do something 10% better or provide added value. And there are certainly businesses that profit from taking over after the innovator, exhausted, gives up and moves on.
But given the option, I would rather be the originator than the imitator.