The German restaurant in our neighbourhood closed its doors after a year in operation. The chef’s reputation and inventive menu were not enough to draw sufficient numbers of customers to make it viable.
We knew it was only a matter of time before another owner took over the lease. And sure enough, last weekend we saw a new coffee machine installed and the tables and chairs being delivered.
There are six cafes selling great coffee and a decent brunch within a hundred metres of this one. So, what does the owner believe her competitive advantage will be?
Few new businesses have an unassailable advantage—one that makes them the only choice for a prospective customer. Most don’t make measurably superior products or own proprietary software. They haven’t patented a secret formula, and they don’t necessarily have more resources or talent than the next company.
Successful companies don’t expect to start out ahead of the game on day one. They plan to earn an advantage over time, by knowing who they want to serve, and how—then building on their strengths to tell the story that matches their ideal customer’s worldview.
And when they do, they give their customers a story to tell, compounding their advantage as they go.
Image by Valberg Larusson