"You can't look at the competition and say you're going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you're going to do it differently." -Steve Jobs
The other day, in the hustle to get out the door to work on time, my guy left home without his keys.
His keys open pretty much everything at his office, and he had a day of back-to-back day meetings. Meaning, there wasn’t time to commute back home and pick up the forgotten keys. I had a full day of coaching clients, so Wonder Woman-ing to the rescue was sadly out of the cards.
We’re lucky to live in a city with so many options and solutions, including Uber’s Rush delivery service. Did you know Uber had this?
With a few touches from my phone, a bike messenger was at our apartment in minutes, and not too much longer those keys arrived at my guy’s office.
Pretty amazing. (Yes, I’m fully aware we’re incredibly lucky to have this option and the privilege to use it.)
After the messenger sped off (weaving through cars in a way that made me nervous), it got me thinking (as these things often do), about the services and products we offer in our businesses.
While I'm not touching their politics, Uber's an example that there's always room for a new idea, even in crowded markets.
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In case you don’t know what Uber is, they’re a blend of one part car service and one part taxi. If you live in an area they service, you can order and pay for a ride from your phone, and a car will show up at your location.
Pretty sure before Uber came around no one thought, "What Manhattan needs is more cars on the road to drive us around."
Uber has all sorts of smart features like carpooling with strangers along your route, share-splitting to divvy up the cost of your ride with friends, different classes of vehicles, food delivery, and the messenger service I just used.
When Uber came onto the scene, it entered a whole lot of existing noise. We have cabs. We have service cars. We have rickshaws. Did we really need yet another way to get around town?
Clearly we did.
Uber found a way to take an existing service and make it different. They found a way to niche down, elevate the service, and make themselves stand out. Pretty ingenious if you ask me.
Uber didn’t just create a service for the sake of offering something because they wanted to. They clearly identified their target audience and the needs that weren’t being addressed by taxis. They tapped into some pain points we didn’t even know we had.
Uber erased the frustration of waiting on the corner watching cab after cab pass you by. They've taken the guesswork out of, “How much is this ride going to cost me?” with their estimated fares. And, they’ve included a driver and rider rating system to encourage friendliness, a welcome factor to anyone who's ever been harassed by a grumpy cab driver.
Uber continues to extend their business looking at the needs and pain points of their customer base and adds services to match. This is where the messenger service I used comes in.
Messenger services also aren’t new to New York City. I’ve used some in the past at a previous office job, and they can be costly and a pain to set up if you’re in a last-minute jam.
Uber has taken this clear need and made it accessible to the everyday person who doesn’t have a corporate messenger service account. People like me working from home.
Ok, so Uber has a great business model. They’re crushing it. What does this have to do with you and me?
I think we can take a cue from Uber.
For all of us who feel like our industry is too saturated, like it’s all been done before, and there isn't room for us, Uber debunks all of this.
They’re an example that nothing is really new. It’s all been done before. There are only five real plotlines and all that jazz …and, yet, there’s still room for improvement. There’s still space to put our own spin on things. There’s still a way to differentiate.
Today, instead of feeling discouraged when you see yet another (fill in the blank with your industry) pop up on Instagram, I’d like to encourage you to look to ways to “Uber” your business. How can you take what's already being done and make it your own?
There’s room for all of us, and there’s always a way to serve people and solve problems more effectively. We don’t add to the noise when we create our own noise.
Wishing you your version of success!