Business

Competition is for losers…

By July 20, 2015 No Comments

We recently completed a deal on our 3rd Chicken & Blues restaurant. I suppose we can label ourselves a ‘group’ now. Maybe a ‘brood’ or ‘coop’ would be more suitable?

Going from 1 to 2 restaurants was hard. Going from 2 to 3 has arguably been harder in many ways. I presume, like having kids, that it might get easier as we grow? Do they start looking after each other a bit as they get older? I am yet to ask my friend Andy Lennox from Koh Group about it. Andy and his team now have eight. Eight kids, that’s a lot of kids.

I’ve had some time away from work and managed to get some research in recently. By that I mean I’ve watched hours of Youtube and read a few books. One thing’s for sure, we can learn from history, and we can be inspired by the experiences shared by people, whether it’s business, sport, music, art etc.

I’ve been watching a lot of Peter Thiel’s interviews and public speaking engagements. He is without doubt one of the most pioneering business people of our generation. Paypal founder, early investor in Facebook. He’s also on the highly guarded Bilderberg Groupsteering committee. The guy is another level of intelligence and harbours an acute global vision, which he is able to communicate in simple terms. It takes a clever man to be able to make complicated subjects so easy to understand.

He certainly speaks in plain English about business. And when he speaks, the world listens. The line that has resonated with me most, which he delivered in beautifully, and typically arrogant fashion, is that ‘competition is for losers’.

By describing the monopoly and competition metrics he justifies why people are misguided. He argues that the ‘competition is good’ crowd simply don’t understand the benefits of being a monopoly. Do people fall into the ‘competition is good’ trap to disguise their realisation that they are in a dog fight to survive, disingenuously reinforcing their own hollow belief that having competition will make them sharper, better? They’re in denial, according to Thiel.

Spending your time trying to take customers from your competition may make you more effective at beating that particular competitor, but in the grand scheme, is it energy wasted? Surely it’s better to have something significantly better, cognitively different and stand alone, avoiding competition at all costs?

We can’t escape that it’s the way we have been programmed. Competition has been ingrained in our DNA. I recently read a book by the Israeli Dr Yural Noah Harari called Sapiens. I recommend you read it if you have the time. It’s interesting to learn how evolution has resulted in most of us accepting life as it is today. Yural’s deep understanding of our evolution as a species was a great marketing lesson. Take religion for example. An imagined reality that created belief systems and some of the most powerful businesses in the world. The Church of England has always had an incredibly effective marketing team. Anyway I digress…

Thiel went on to make the point that it’s not about being first into a market, it’s about being the last. Being first and last is the holy grail.

Facebook was by no means the first social network in the world. Reid Hoffman, the LinkedIn founder, actually started a social networking platform, called The Social Net, 7 years before Facebook. His concept was that people created fictional characters that represented them, and interacted with fellow animations that took the place of real people. It didn’t take off. Facebook was the first network that delivered ‘people profiling’ in a real and complete sense.

Zuckerberg entered the market late. There was Myspace, Friends Reunited and quite a few others before him. However, he delivered a high quality platform with pre engineered viral growth strategies in place, taking pieces from everything else that he liked, forming his own vastly improved version.

This well orchestrated coordination of many ideas packaged into a smooth, functioning product is something Thiel says is consistent amongst many successful businesses. You can’t see anyone taking large market share from Facebook in the near future. They buy companies that their user base takes a liking to now. Monopoly money.

Thiel said that if someone came to him today and said they wanted to launch a search engine, he would suggest it wasn’t a good idea, as Google provides competition that is far too advanced and tough to compete against. When was the last time you heard someone say ‘Just Yahoo It’?…. Exactly. A Monopoly.

Chicken & Blues Ashley Cross opens in July, taking over the current Burger Shop property. We’re putting our foot down on our franchise expansion plans. Glen Dillon-Lee, an experienced Chef and hard working young operator, is our franchise partner. We wish him every success and will be with him every step of the way.

With our refined 3 stage cooking process and secret 48 hour marinade, plus our unique coal BBQ finish, we believe we have something different to the rest of the high street. Being named Top 5 Chicken Restaurants in the UK last year by The Metro, as well as picking up a business award from Dragon’s Den star Theo Paphitis for our concept, has given the team confidence.

Of course, we are acutely aware that we’re not the first operators to enter the gourmet Chicken market. As Peter Thiel so rightly points out though, it’s about being good enough to be the last.

Thanks for reading.