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Words mean Competition

Supported by Greenhaven Road Capital, finding value off the beaten path.

The easiest competition is a competition with no one. Peter Thiel wants entrepreneurs to go from Zero to One. Bob Moesta wants business owners to think about nonconsumption. Investors want to fish by themselves.

A good sign for a lack of competition is a lack of words, metrics, numbers, figures, or ways to describe the thing. Sabermetrics provides a clear example, creating new words like WAR (wins-above-replacement). Early on it was only natives that spoke that language. With time it became legible and numerical.

Recently I was researching Shopify for a client and the Reddit message boards are full of good questions, helpful advice, and sad stories. The most helpful comment was this, “drop shipping worked before there was a name for it.” 

Like comets passing past planets; ideas are unknown, known and captured, or lost again. Once an idea has been collectively captured it takes a form, it becomes easy, and it’s hard to create value from it. Ben Savage explains this idea in his comment about blockchain.

There’s little doubt that in 2020 we will generate, collect, clean, and analyze more data than we did in 2019. That’s a lot of potential legibility. However, more data doesn’t mean good data.

Ask any parent what the best restaurant meal is like and they’ll tell you, 100% of the time, it’s when a waiter takes special care of the children. Early food, extra apps, special cups, jokes, magic tricks, whatever. This is low hanging fruit, easy to see, guaranteed to please.

“A larger sample size doesn’t give you a better answer to a bad question.” — Bob Moesta

I don’t get more excited for new years than I do new months but they do provide an artificial break — like a paragraph — to pause and prepare.

We can take a breath and business owners can ask, am I going to sell the same things to new people or new things to the same people? To avoid the competition and make a difficult task slightly easier it will help if there aren’t quite words for what you’re doing.

Thanks for reading.