Lean Canvas—Your Unfair Advantage

Before you finish your Lean Canvas, you have one last box to complete: your Unfair Advantage.

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You have probably heard you need a Competitive Advantage. That’s the advantage you have that is going to give you the edge and keep competitors from taking your business. What is the Unfair Advantage you have over your competition? How will you defend against their attacks? If you are successful, you will need one—you will have competitors come after you!

One characteristic which many people consider an Unfair Advantage is being “First to Market.” If you get there ahead of everyone else, you have an advantage, right?

Actually, maybe not. When you are first with a product you have to educate your customers about what it is you’re selling (the category) and why your customers should consider it. When you are a “Fast Follower,” you can capitalize on all the work the First to Market folks did to educate the world about your category of products. In that case, you only have to convince your customers that your brand is better than the other guy’s brand. You do that, and the sale is yours.

If being “First to Market” isn’t the Unfair Advantage you were hoping for, what might be?

Lots of entrepreneurs settle for drab descriptors that aren’t really Unfair Advantages. Things such as:

  • More features
  • Less features
  • Design
  • Passion
  • Determination

Ash Maurya shares his favorite definition from Jason Cohen: “A real unfair advantage is something that can’t be easily copied or bought.”

Here are some advantages that might qualify as “unfair:”

  • Insider information
  • Personal authority
  • A dream team
  • Existing customers
  • The “right” celebrity endorsements
  • Large network effects
  • Community
  • Organic search ranking
  • Patents
  • Core values

The truth is, you may not have any of that when you’re just starting out. That’s ok. Normal, even. And if you don’t have one, the best thing to do is leave that box blank on your lean canvas.

If you fill the blank with drab, unconvincing “advantages,” you’ll probably stop asking yourself about what Unfair Advantage you might have or might be able to develop.

On the other hand, if you leave it blank, you will be forced to consider what might develop or where you might find an unfair advantage as your business launches and grows.

So that’s it—fill in your Unfair Advantage or leave it blank. Either way, by completing your lean canvas, you will have a big picture perspective on what your new business is all about and whether it is worth taking the next step.

Speaking of next steps, what’s your next step for your business? Do you know where to go from here? If so, let me know your thoughts. If not, we should talk. I might be able to help.

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