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Competing against non-consumption

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On, The Long View podcast, Sallie Krawcheck said, “Our rival is cash and inertia, that’s our biggest competition.”

The crucial idea from Zero to One is to not compete because competition makes a difficult situation more so. Competition aversion is why some buy boring businesses.

Once there’s another entity, the market mechanism incantation summons the invisible hand and cranks into gear competition. Great for consumers, bad for producers.

A business can avoid this by following Bob Moesta’s JTBD framework. Non-consumption, Moesta says, “is buried in everyday life and you have to dig for it.” Because people aren’t using a form of this product, they don’t know what they want, and it’s why Moesta and his crew conduct the scope of interviews they do. It’s hard to find this stuff. It’s why Steve Jobs said he doesn’t ask people want they want.

When Krawcheck started Ellevest in 2015, she would have seen a lot of different investing options. There were many competitors with many features. She could have focused on a metrics like cost per trade, minimum balance and so on. But instead of looking at the easy-to-see things, she focused on the hard to see one: non-consumption.

Business is difficult. One way to make it less so is listen to people who aren’t customers and find which job they need done.

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