What's Your Unfair Advantage?

4 min read

nike basketball

In startups, there is a term called “Unfair Advantage”, which is one of the most important things a founder in a company needs to understand in order to beat out their competition.

An “Unfair Advantage” is anything that cannot be easily copied or bought by other stakeholders. This can be technical knowledge, unique skills, connections, patents, or a large sum donation from a distant uncle.

Many companies have used their unfair advantage to become the top of their area:

  • Google outperformed Bing & Yahoo in speed 5-10xs faster than their competitors.

  • Coke beat Pepsi by emphasizing brand over product by selling itself to consumers as an experience and lifestyle.

  • Nike outrose Adidas through early unique designs of shoes that improved athlete’s performance as well as empowering story branding. (ya know, Just Do It)

The amazing thing is if a company utilizes their unfair advantage strategically, not only can they differentiate themselves from the competition, but they can add to their stash of unfair advantages, becoming an unstoppable force in their field (until the government decides to anti-trust you 👀 ).

In the same way, we can pinpoint our own “unfair advantages” to see how we can uniquely provide value to others, and potentially discover areas we can do meaningful work.

Recently I was in a call with a community of entrepreneurs, and a man was sharing his struggles on helping others, and not understanding how he could sell himself.

He mentioned how he was good at soft skills, and as a product manager, he had an impact within his company, but when it came to taking his skills outside of corporate for his side hustle, he felt that there was no unique proposition that he could provide to his audience.

He had the drive to help, but there was no specific selling point.

One of the entrepreneurs listening in the call started to ask him questions to understand his story. Through some dialogue, we learned the man’s passions and realized that the man’s unfair advantage involved intersecting his empathy as a manager, his unique curiosity and learning drive as an entrepreneur, and his passion for sports to potentially create a podcast or courses to help athletes go from doing sports to running a business.

In that time, I learned that everyone has an unfair advantage in something.

By taking stock of not only your skills & resources but also experiences, passions, and insights, you can discover your uniqueness and amplify your value to others.

Maybe you’ll discover that you have so much more to offer than you knew.

When you know your unfair advantages, you’ll know how to better sell yourself and can use that leverage to your advantage to help yourself, others, and the world.

So how will you uniquely provide value to the world?

What’s your unfair advantage?

Questions to ponder: 🤔

  • List out your skills, resources, experiences, passions, etc…

  • How can you intersect these properties to discover an unfair advantage about yourself, compared to others? (individually, job candidates, startup, work)