Your Unfair Competitive Advantage

unfair.jpgWhile speaking recently at the monthly meeting of Team Ivy here in Atlanta, I witnessed a rather unique way of introducing yourself to others. As part of the opening of the meeting, all of the attendees took turns giving their 2 minute personal pitch. As part of that pitch, they included a statement about their personal “unfair competitive advantage.”

I began thinking about how this ties into entrepreneurship at the early stage. Establishing and understanding your unfair competitive advantage early on gives you, well, an advantage!

If you don’t have an unfair competitive advantage, one would have to question your rationale. Note, your “unfair competitive advantage” is very likely different from “barriers to entry” or “how you are different from your competition”. I would hope that you business plan already outlines what makes your business or idea rise above the others in your field, or why customers will want to buy your dog food rather than Chuck Wagon’s.

What I am referring to here is your unfair competitive advantage as an entrepreneur. If charged with marrying someone else’s money with your idea, what gives you the ability to achieve success (over your competition)? Remember the old adage – investors are betting on the jockey, not just the horse. Anything you can do to put investors at ease in the early stages of reading your business plan or hearing your pitch is going to be a good thing.

Here are some thought starters:

Imagine the impact that a simple, easy statement along these lines could have in your executive summary or pitch.

As always, feel free to drop a comment below. If you need help with your business plan, I encourage you to visit our new free community at StartupLounge.com and get the help you need!Cheers.

5 Comments

  1. Who can say to have a unfair advantage before entering the market. Only the market can tell us if it was an advantage!

  2. Adriana – thanks for stopping by and dropping a comment!

    I think you may be missing my point. I am not talking about the competitive advantage of the business/company. I am referring to what the entrepreneur believes that his or her “unfair competitive advantage” is as a business leader.

    You are right, though, in that hindsight is the only vehicle for the truth. However, there isn’t one business in the history of the world that could predict the future from the get-go. It all comes down to subjectivity. Does the investor believe that the entrepreneur has the means, the knowledge, the drive, and the assets to be successful.

    What gives you, as an entrepreneur, an unfair competitive advantage over other, like-minded entrepreneurs looking to build their fortune?

    Cheers.
    Scott

  3. Michael Blake · January 25, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    The nice thing about this topic is that it applies elsewhere than entrepreneurship. As it applies to entrepreneurship, I would take the position that unless you think you’ve identified an unfair competitive advantage, it’s not worth the risk of embarking on the venture. But unfair competitive advantage applies to our careers, managing personal finances (picking stocks, for example) or even our personal lives.

    Other examples of “unfair competitive advantages” could include unique knowledge (such as a highly technical area), unique skill sets (understanding how to raise seed capital or pitch loan opportunities to banks), or unique physical skills (such as a great phone voice). The skills could be softer, such as conflict resolution or leadership.

    We so often focus on addressing our weaknesses that we can forget to identify our strengths and then put ourselves in a position where are strengths have maximum impact.

  4. And along the great phone voice lines Michael, even being good looking can be an unfair competitive advantage.
    Seriously, thanks for this post Scott. Your thought starters helped me see that some of my strengths are pretty darned good, so I’ll be sure to put those out there. Thanks!

  5. Rog Wilson wilson.roger@juno.com · January 28, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Scott, thanks for your participation, taking something away, and sharing it with others.

    My thinking is, “If I do not have a unique advantage,why will others choose me? If I don’t know my unique advantage, how will others know?”

    Why not have others submit their statement of their “unfair competitive advantage”, in reasonably few words, to get them to formulate it in their own mind and to give others examples?

    I’ll start:

    My unfair competitive advantage is that I have a 31 year background with IBM, lived in Germany and England 3 years each and many places in the US, can connect my experiences with both ideas and people, am coachble and trainable, industrious, and want to help you.

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