People tend to consider their competitive advantage as some big secret that no one else could ever find out. Those same people do not realize that their special sauce is not so special. As a matter of fact, every special sauce created is made of only a few base ingredients. Even more amazing is that there are some special sauces that even when you know the ingredients, you still can’t make it as good as when the orginator made it. Life is the same way in that it is not about the ingredients as much as what you do with the ingredients in order to achieve the results you want. Keep in mind that each special sauce has very common base (mayo, ketchup, mustard, etc.). Just like there are no new bases’s to these special sauces, there are no new fundamentals. When you really break down what makes up a special sauce, it is just a combination of fundamentals (base ingredients) that when combined in just the right way with just the right actions, to create an AMAZING result to its creator.
One thing that has always amazed me is when people think they have acompetative advantage, but it is so easily duplicated. As a pionier in any industry, you are basically writing out the blue prints for anyone else to steal. The more simple the advantage (special sauce), the easier to is to be take and used by your competitors. The $500 Millionaire always reminds me that it is better to copy genius than to create mediocrity. Don’t fool yourself in thinking you have something when you don’t. Take the, use-to-be billion dollar franchise Quizno’s for example. They came out in the market and blew up all over the country. Their tag line was, “MMM…TOASTY!!” Their entire competitive advantage was a toaster. Needless to say when a small competitor named Subway looked in and said, “All you are doing is Toasting your subs…hmmm.” It was not long till Subway started toasting their subs and came out with a real marketing strategy called “the $5 Footlong.” Needless to say toasting an $8 sub was no special sauce, it was as common as ketchup.
Needless to say, some advantages are easily duplicated (like a toaster) and are not competative at all, not just in business but in life aswell. In this situation, it is not about the ingredients because the ingredients are simple to figure out. The problem is when you lean on what you think is a competitive advantage as a crutch, when it is easily duplicated, you will fall as soon as someone pulls that crutch out from under you. You can express the advantages you have, but do not think for a second that they are competitive if someone else can easily duplicate it. As stated before, the $500 Millionaire likes to express over and over again that there are no new fundamentals. If you read enough self growth books you will see that it is the same principals, re-packaged and re sold, over and over again. When you finally break it down, there is not much new info out there. Sure there are a couple gems here and there, but as far as the core basis, they are all the same.
When the $500 Millionaire has an idea, he is very open about the idea. Many people think he is crazy. What if someone STEALS his idea? He has told me plenty of times that, “Ideas are a dime a dozen, but someone who can make ideas create a dozen dimes…now that is impressive.” Basically it is not the idea, just like it is not the ingredients in the sauce, but it’s the person making or creating it. It’s how you make the sauce, how you use these fundamentals, the difference of a pinch, the difference of a dash, he difference of one principal or another.
Just because have something that gives you a SLIGHT upper hand does not mean it is “special” in anyway. You might have thought of it first but the second a competitor finds out, they can easily us R&D (Rip-off and Duplicate) to take advantage of your idea. The $500 Millionaire hopes you will never use your “advantage” or “special sauce” as a crutch, but more as a talking point. If you are making a sale, pitching to investors, or just trying to persuade someone, make sure the biggest advantage of the deal is the ability to work with you. You can have the best idea in the world and with the wrong person or team behind it, and it will go no where.
So next time you think you have the special sauce, really look at it and make sure it is not just ketchup. Make sure that there is more to it. Make sure it is not easily duplicated by anyone who would want a piece of the pie. You do that and the $500 Millionaire believes you will find an amazing ability to create multiple special sauce receipts for thing you never even thought were possible.