The premium of specificity

It is tempting to serve a large market.

The most amateur business cases start by sizing the entire pie. The more people one serves, the larger the market. Everybody buys rice! The market for rice is massive. Even if we were to capture a tiny fraction of this market, our revenues would be in the millions!

The question is, at what cost?

If everybody buys rice, everybody can sell it as well. If you sell it at a profit of 10%, there are several others who would do it at 8% or 6%. And that flags off a race to the bottom, where nobody ends up making any money. A world of perfect competition, as an economist would call it.

What if you sold a specific type of rice instead? What if you sold red basmati rice? Not the standard, super-polished, pearly white version or even the brown version, but one that is truly red?

By selling this variety of rice, you decide to serve a particular market – people who cook their pulaos and biriyanis with a special kind of rice. But with this focus, you can serve this market better than most generic rice traders – a service they would be willing to pay you a premium for.

Being specific allows you to charge this premium. It is a reward for your courage and your commitment to mean something to somebody rather than everything to everybody.

If everybody is your market, unfortunately, everybody is your competitor as well.

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