Biz + Tech

Your Personal Unfair Advantage

Life isn’t fair. It’s one of those clichés you hear over and over again, and a tenet that you’ve probably experienced firsthand.

But the unfairness of life is precisely what can lead to success and growth. When the unfairness of life plays to your advantage, you’re suddenly faced with opportunity you may not have noticed before and that may not be available to others.

Take Apple for example. Apple is one of the most successful and ubiquitous hardware companies in history, built on unfair advantages including design expertise, brand equity, extreme cost/volume savings, and bargaining power.

Starting in April 1976, Apple spent decades building its hardware empire – its biggest resource. On July 10, 2008, the company further capitalized on that hardware footprint by opening up a Services line: the iOS app store.

Since 2008, the app store and Apple’s Services revenue has become the fastest growing aspect of their business as they’ve saturated their own market and hardware growth declines. Apple recognized that by creating a network of hardware devices, they also had created a second resource: a distribution network for other software companies and independent developers to leverage.

And they’re leveraging that distribution network, Apple charges a 30% service fee to any software developer who makes a sale using the iOS app store, including in-app purchases.

That’s the thing about unfair advantages: they can compound and build exponentially.

Without an unfair advantage, a business can be copied and replaced very quickly. Unfair advantages are a barrier to entry, and barriers to entry are the key to unique value propositions and sustained success.

Now let’s get away from business.

There are 7.4 billion people on this planet. All of them need to cover their basic needs, and that means resources to afford those needs. Resources are acquired by providing value to someone who can trade their resources for yours.

Once basic needs are covered, we move on to quality of life. Quality of life is improved by more resources.

This is all an abstract way of saying that you need currency (money or service bartering). Currency helps to afford your needs and a better life. In the modern world, we receive currency by mining out our most precious resource: our time.

We all have time. We don’t know how much time we have, but we all have it.

We all value our time. We value our time by what we choose to do with it…how much of it we sell and who we choose to sell it to. By taking on work or a job.

You come to an agreement for the value of your time when you accept a salary or a wage. This value is based on supply and demand for your time in the market.

This is where your own personal unfair advantage comes in. What is your time worth?

Our time is worth more to us than to anyone else. Therefore, it stands to reason that we should do everything we can to keep as much time to ourselves as possible. The more time we keep for ourselves, the less time we have available to sell to someone else. The less time we have available to sell to someone else, the more currency we need to be receiving for that allotment of time to maintain the quality of life that we want.

The only way to retain more of your time is to build an unfair advantage that cannot be replicated. Your own barrier to entry.

Maybe your unfair advantage is the culinary ability you’ve been honing for 20 years. Maybe it’s your guitar skills you’ve polished since you picked it up at age 5. Maybe it’s the tribe of people who follow you and consume whatever you create. Whatever it is, it needs to be unique to you and something you can continue to build on and outpace the competition.

We all have weaknesses. Weaknesses can be alleviated, but almost impossible to turn into unfair advantages. Think of it this way: is it more valuable to go from -2 to 0, or 0 to 2? To the world, a “2” is much more rare and valuable than a “0.”

Find and build on your strengths. The world needs your personal unfair advantage.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Jay is the founder of Unreal Collective, which helps individuals reach their goals through community. Previously, Jay spent several years in tech startups as COO of Tixers (sold in 2015) and a product manager at CrossChx. Every day Jay writes about relationships, learning, and personal growth, and you can sign up at jayclouse.com