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How to create a successful business with no competition

The recipe is simple. Get to know yourself.

And that is not easy.

In human relations, a person’s lack of authenticity is considered bad faith in dealing with other people and with one’s self; thus, authenticity is in the instruction of the Oracle of Delphi: “Know thyself.” [1]

If you know thyself to be such-and-such a kind of person, this limits your freedom considerably. You might have been the one who chose to be an espresso person or a donating-to-charity person but, once these features are built into your self-image, you have very little say in what direction your life is going. Any change would be either censored or lead to cognitive dissonance. [2]

“Nothing limits intelligence more than ignorance; nothing fosters ignorance more than one’s own opinions; nothing strengthens opinions more than refusing to look at reality.”

Sheri S. Tepper

Nothing is easier than self-deceit.

If history has proven anything, it reveals that human beings are usually wrong about their beliefs. A lot of people have believed a lot of things that turned out to be wrong. Although we are highly adept at creating worldviews we are incredibly less adept at realizing that we have made them. And we are even less adept at realizing that we’re clinging to them.

Beliefs don’t change facts, but facts should change beliefs. The problem is that our conclusions about our beliefs are almost always exculpatory, even in the face of historic fallibility. The funny thing is: we know we are a fallible species. We know we are prone to make mistakes. It’s just excruciatingly difficult to admit to it, especially to each other. What we need then is a ruthless but effective method of questioning our perception of reality.

Most of what we think is true is actually confabulation, fabricated memory believed to be true. Confabulations are not true, but the brain doesn’t know that. All it knows is the cultural narrative. This narrative bias, supported by the conjunction fallacy, leads to confabulation.

And what is the greatest confabulation of all?

Our sense of self.

It’s just a story, like all the other stories that we tell ourselves: a jumble of assumptions that come together to distinguish this from that, you from other – an internal locus of control created by our narrative bias. Like George Miller wrote, “You don’t experience thinking; you experience the result of thinking.” But cognitive dissonance will almost always prevail, unless we have the perspicuity and inner courage to question our beliefs to the nth degree.

You might have heard of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” – a concept devised by the philosopher to ruminate on the nature of belief versus knowledge.

Plato talks about the tiresome and challenging journey of how one achieves real truth not second hand truth, which the prisoners perceive is real. In this text the most significant ideas of Plato’s allegory is the idea of self- actualization and real truth. Plato states many examples to show that the people trapped are living in a false reality, and that they are closed minded. [3]

“It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free people that want to remain servile, as it is to enslave people that want to remain free.”

Niccolo Machiavelli

There is freedom when you’re leading from a place of self knowledge. [4]

The secret may have to do with what Japanese call ikigai. Ikigai is a concept referring to something that gives a person a sense of purpose, a reason for living. [5]

When you get clear about what you love to do and what you’re good at, and you find the overlap with what the world needs and what you can be paid to do, you’ve found your sense of purpose — you’ve found your ikigai.

It is equally important to know your values, behaviours, limits and strengths in order to be able to influence a group of people.

So how does all this relate to business?

Blue ocean strategy for example, that was developed by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim, is the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost to open up a new market space and create new demand. [6]

It is about creating and capturing uncontested market space, thereby making the competition irrelevant. It is based on the view that market boundaries and industry structure are not a given and can be reconstructed by the actions and beliefs of industry players. [7]

As Naval Ravikant put it: “Escape competition through authenticity.” Basically, when you’re competing with people, it’s because you’re copying them. It’s because you’re trying to do the same thing. But every human is different. Don’t copy. [8]

If you are fundamentally building and marketing something that is an extension of who you are, no one can compete with you on that. Who’s going to compete with Joe Rogan or Scott Adams? It’s impossible. Is somebody else going to come along and write a better Dilbert? No. Is someone going to compete with Bill Watterson and create a better Calvin and Hobbes? No. They’re being authentic. [9]

Some will not like you, your product and/or your brand. And that is perfectly okay.

If you choose to niche down, you’ll find that you have more time to excel at what you do best. By focusing on a particular area of your business, you’ll have more time to perform in-depth research on your target market and be able to communicate with them more effectively.

Because when you’re doing what you were designed to do, people are drawn to work with you, and the right clients show up naturally. It’s a beautiful blending of intention, expertise, passion and connection. Just like ikigai.

The simplest way to target the right audience is to truly knowing your customer. And in this case, your ideal customer is most likely interested in what you have to offer.

By strategically pursuing the subcategories that will work best for your brand, you can increase your profitability and better define what makes your company unique.

People now expect businesses to do the right thing, for our planet and society. When we discover bad practice, such as poor pay and working conditions, child labour, pollution, deforestation, unrecyclable products and so on, more of us are ‘voting with our wallet’. [10]

Tom Szaky, founder of Terracycle, interviewed for the Being Human Podcast, called it the ‘vote of consumption’. Szaky says we can “vote for the future we want, with what we buy”. In other words, every purchase we don’t make means one less of those products gets into the system. The result of our non-purchase is less resource extraction, less worker and community exploitation, less waste, pollution and emissions. [11]

Significantly, investments in the companies with better records on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues proved to be more resilient during the coronavirus market crash. The US investment fund said sustainable indices outperformed standard indices in market downturns in 2015-16 and 2018 and lasted through the market recovery. In the year to 30 April, 88 per cent of sustainable funds lost less than their non-sustainable counterparts. [12]

Just as importantly, engaging our employees is essential to our success. People want to feel connected to their work, and be proud of what they are doing. Organizations that have a purpose beyond profit find it easier to recruit and retain talented, motivated, loyal employees. [13]

To sum up, great people have great outcomes. When you build your character, success becomes your destiny. You just have to be patient. [14]

The virtue of patience can be one of the most challenging to practice consistently, primarily because the stress of daily life and work gives us so many opportunities to experience frustration.

Many aspiring entrepreneurs decide to move forward with a new business plan and want to see amazing results as soon as possible. This may include growth as well as profits. While some businesses may achieve success fast, the reality is that slow and steady wins the race.

Patience develops excellence. Talent is long-earned patience. At the core of every true success is an awareness of the difficulties inherent in any achievement and the confidence that by persisting and being patient, something worthwhile will be realized. In this way, genius is nothing but a greater propensity for patience. [15]

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Thomas Edison

So do your best, carry on, and success will find you.

The poem ‘No Leaders Please’ that you can read below is a powerful reminder to remain a free spirit, to break free of conformity, to never let people put you in a box and stick a label on it that says “this is who you are and what you are like”.

Charles Bukowski: No Leaders Please (The Pleasures of the Damned):

“Invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
don’t swim in the same slough.
invent yourself and then reinvent yourself and
stay out of the clutches of mediocrity.

invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
change your tone and shape so often that they can never categorize you.

reinvigorate yourself and
accept what is
but only on the terms that you have invented
and reinvented.

be self-taught.

and reinvent your life because you must;
it is your life and
its history
and the present
belong only to

[1] Wikipedia, Authenticity (philosophy),
[2] Bence Nanay Ph.D., “Know Thyself” Is Not Just Silly Advice,
[4] Jonathan Fields, The Good Life Project
[5] Wikipedia, Ikigai,
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ravikant, Naval. “How to Get Rich: Every Episode.” Naval, June 3, 2019.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Through the lens of this pandemic, is your business providing what the world needs?,
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ravikant, Naval. “How to Get Rich: Every Episode.” Naval, June 3, 2019.
[15] Sherrie Campbell, 8 Ways Practicing Patience Radically Increases Your Capacity for Success,