The granddaddy of all mistakes is competing to be the best, going down the same path as everybody else and thinking that somehow you can achieve better results. This is a hard race to win.
Michael Porter, quoted in Understanding Michael Porter, by Joan Magretta
Don’t try to be the best!
What? I thought I was supposed to be the best I could be.
I thought there were only two places: first and tied for last.
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That may be true in the NFL and the NBA.
But life does not work like professional sports.
Even in the pros, there are many winners and many losers.
The league championship is not the only game they are playing.
Many businesses claim to be the best, and that sounds like a good strategy.
However, the only business strategy worse than trying to be the best is trying to be the cheapest.
That becomes a race to the bottom.
Eventually, everyone in that race goes broke.
Racing to be the best would seem to bring success.
But all it brings is competitors.
And the better the business gets, the harder it gets to get better.
So, the business works harder and harder for diminishing returns.
The way to avoid this battle to the death is to be unique.
If a business has a unique product or service, or if it provides one of them in a unique way, then it has no competitors.
It might have imitators.
But imitators generally don’t copy all the key details.
The best business strategy is to be one of a kind.
This is also true for individuals.
If you try to be the best singer in the world or the best juggler in the world, you will make an enormous investment with little chance of success.
However, if you can sing in Bulgarian while juggling Belgian waffles, you will have no competitors.
Fortunately, you don’t have to learn Bulgarian or learn how to juggle.