Your margin is my opportunity

By Morgan Housel via collaborativefund.com   Article

Sustainable sources of competitive advantage

“As soon as a smart product or business idea becomes popular, the urge to copy it and commoditize it is the strongest force economics can unleash. Jeff Bezos summed this up when he said ‘Your margin is my opportunity.’

The key to business and investing success … [is] having a sustainable advantage. Something that others either can’t or aren’t willing to copy once your idea is exposed and patents expire. … That leaves doing something others aren’t willing to do as the top source of sustainable competitive advantage. Here are five big ones.

The ability to learn faster than your competition

… Marc Andreessen promotes the idea of ‘strong beliefs, weakly held,’ which I love. Few things are more powerful than strongly believing in an idea (focus) but being willing to let go of it when it’s proven wrong or outdated (humility).

The ability to empathize with customers more than your competition

… What percentage of McDonald’s executives frequent their own restaurant as a legitimate customer interested in the chain’s food, rather than a fact-finding mission? … How many times has the CEO of Delta Airlines been bumped from a flight, or had his bags lost by the airline? ….

The ability to communicate more effectively than your competition

Business success doesn’t necessarily go to those with the best product. It goes to whoever is the most persuasive. …  Most business edges are found at the intersection of trust and simplicity. Both rely on the ability to tell customers what and why you’re doing something before losing their attention. …

The willingness to fail more than your competition

… The key is creating a culture that allows you to fail often without ruin. This means not docking employees for trying things that don’t work, and not betting so much on a single idea that its failure could cripple the company. …

The willingness to wait longer than your competition

Rewards sit on a spectrum: Small, unpredictable ones in the short run, big, higher-odd ones if you wait longer. … Waiting longer gives you time to learn from, and correct, early mistakes. … It lets you focus on the parts of a problem that matter, rather than the chaos and nonsense that comes in the short run from people’s unpredictable emotions.”

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