Wed, Aug 07, 2013

Finding your Unfair Advantage

When working through your business/lean canvas you will come across a section called “Unfair Advantage”. When you talk with potential investors they will ask you to talk them through your “Unfair Advantage”. When you want to be successful, especially in a crowded market (and which market isn’t crowded these days?), you need an “Unfair Advantage”.

Sometimes this is easy — you have some proprietary technology; the three leading experts in your field work for you or you have established relationships to the most important partners in your industry. Often this is not quite as clear. In a lot of these cases you actually need to develop your unfair advantage from scratch.

When Zappos started selling shoes they entered a crowded market with low barriers to entry (it really isn’t that hard to sell shoes online). What Tony did was to define their unfair advantage (leading with the best, most amazing customer service in the world) and then build it. And thus it became their unfair advantage and Zappos a model which is widely studied.

Here’s how you do this: Take your complete value chain and map it out. Define all the areas where good enough is good enough, where you need to live up to existing standards which have become table stakes and then pick the area you are most passionate about and figure out how winning in this area has to look like. Then build it. And if you truly become exceptional in this particular area, this will become your unfair advantage.

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