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Compete Or Die



It is great to believe that your product or service is so differentiated that you do not need to compete. Competition is some barbaric act, suitable for business simpletons, you are far more sophisticated … or so you believe. 


You say things like “collaboration over competition”. You delude yourself with images of you and the others in your industry singing Kumbaya and skipping hand in hand. Your naivete leads you to believe that those around you are not self-interested and power-hungry. 

Your enemy, disguised as your friend who just happens to be in the same industry, has helped you forget how to compete. 


I’ve read books like Zero To One and Blue Ocean Strategy. I understand that direct competition is not the best strategy, differentiation or creating a completely new market is always favorable. If you can create a completely new technology, even better. However, when those strategies aren’t possible and war is imminent, you must win at all costs. 


You can only run and differentiate for so long. 


Look at some of the most powerful organizations in the world today: 


  • Amazon: when faced with a competitor selling diapers (Diapers.com) Jeff Bezos first tried to drown them by selling diapers at a massive discount. Then he simply swallowed them up in an acquisition. 

  • Apple: Apple clearly pitted themselves against IBM and later against Windows, first with the famous 1984 ad campaign and later with I’m a Mac and you’re a PC. 

  • Pepsi: Directly attacked Coke with the famous Pepsi Challenge. The whole fiasco almost actually worked in killing Coke. 

  • Facebook: launched a direct X (formerly known as Twitter) competitor just as Elon Musk completed his takeover of the company.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to examples of ruthless business competition. The history books of many great organizations are littered with forgotten tales of hostile acquisitions, lawsuits, and aggressive price cuts to drive perceived threats into extinction. 


So if you’ve read this far maybe I’ve woken you up. Maybe you’ve noticed that one of your suppliers seems to be supplying the enemy too. Maybe you’ve realized that one of your suppliers is increasing it’s direct-to-consumer footprint. Maybe you’ve noticed that the restaurant owner you were friends with just added a coffee program and is now cannibalizing your sales. 


These people are wolves in sheep’s clothing, they play nice, and they say all the right things, but they are power-hungry and they will be all too happy to see you go away. 

So it’s time to compete. 


You must strive to be the only thing that people think of when your category is mentioned. 

If you own a restaurant you should secretly hope that all other restaurants and grocery stores in your town disappear. You should pay politicians to have cookbooks banned in your town. You should dream of creating a monopoly. 


Sharpen your mind. Allow the contradicting thoughts that the world is abundant and that the game of business is winner-take-all all to coexist. They are both true, and you need to know when to lean on each belief system. 


Lastly, collaboration is important. Find others with a common enemy and work together to destroy them (only if they can be trusted of course). Create complimentary allies and watch them closely, be prepared to cut them off if they enter your market. 


Do not look for fights, but, if you find yourself in one, make sure you win completely. 

Thanks for reading — you can find more at www.battagli.com

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