Sep 17, 2021

Different is better than best

This is not something I expected when I first started trying to build companies, but making something better is a pretty ineffective approach to starting a business. Especially if it’s only marginally better. Even if it’s a lot better, it might not be good enough for people to switch.

The reason for this is that there is a mental cost and potential risk to switching to something new from what you’re familiar with. If what you’re offering isn’t obviously much more valuable than that cost, people won’t switch. Debating whether something is a better version of something that already exists is mentally taxing. To make a company like that work, you need excellent distribution.

However, if what you’re offering is different, there is no debate. Nobody else sells what you have. You’re making a bold prediction about how the future will be different and creating a movement for people who agree.

When thinking of a business that illustrates this well, I think of this company: The Oodie. Who the fuck wants a hybrid sweatshirt/blanket to wear? Apparently, enough people for that company to pull in tens of millions of dollars in sales annually. If you don’t believe me, check out the founder’s YouTube channel.

They didn’t try to make a better shirt or pair of pants. They created an entirely new item to wear. Most people are not interested in that new thing. But for the people who are, there’s only one place to buy it from which makes it an easy decision.

—East Northport, NY