Every time a guy with a dream decides to open a new big-city restaurant, the old joke goes, “Good thing nobody else has thought of that.”
This problem is ALWAYS with us, all this Covid-19 stuff has done is make it EVEN MORE pronounced. We live in a world of oversupply.
And even the businesses that do survive, with or without Covid, most of these enterprises- i.e. the vast majority- are vulnerable to somebody coming along and offering to build a better mousetrap. Harry makes a damn fine $2 pizza slice, but it’s just a matter of time before the Sal down the street offers a comparable slice for $1.
And it’s not just true with dollar pizzas. It’s true with $400 chainsaws. Or $5,000 refrigerators. Or $100 million jet fighters.
How the hell can you be different? It’s just about the business person’s Number One problem.
The answer, of course, was best articulated by Apple in the 1990s: “Think Different”.
If you’re thinking differently, that means you’re thinking about stuff that hasn’t occurred to the competition. Which allows you to make moves the latter would never think of. Or, paraphrasing Rory Sutherland, having the insight that data and logic will get you to the exact same place as your competitors.
If you can grapple with that then you’ve got the good news. The bad news is you don’t just wake up one morning and start “thinking different” right out the gate. Like everyone else, you’re stuck with the same brain you went to bed with the night before.
What you can do is do what David Ogilvy did: acquire the habit of hiring “different:- i.e. mavericks and non-conformists- and let them go wild (within reason). It’s what powered the tech industry these last 60 years, and judging by the stock prices of some of them, it worked.
As always, you can only do that if you’ve got the right leadership in place if you got the right culture.
Otherwise, you’re just putting lipstick on a pig…