The One Thing Entrepreneurs Tend To Gloss Over In Their “Road to Success” Narrative
You’ve heard the stories of entrepreneurial struggle.
Of taking a chance and following your dream.
Of working hard and never giving up.
And, finally, becoming successful.
Stories like these always end the same way.
“If I can do it, then so can you.”
I unimaginatively call it the “Road to Success” narrative.
These entrepreneurs highlight the pain of your current situation and tell you they know exactly how it feels because they’ve been in your shoes.
Then they tell you how their business grew by leaps and bounds because they did X, Y, and Z. And if you just follow their advice and do what they did, you’ll have the same success too.
But there’s one thing they don’t talk about, or they gloss over it if they do — their unfair advantage.
The Element of an Unfair Advantage.
It’s that teeny tiny bit of extra that nobody else has.
Of course, that’s not to say they didn’t work their ass off to succeed.
Their struggle was real.
And they truly believe that they can help you achieve the same success.
But if you haven’t achieved the success they said you would (even though you did everything they said), it’s because you don’t have the same unfair advantage as them.
Sucks, I know.
The Thing About Having an Unfair Advantage
… is that it’s not always obvious.
Sure, in some cases it is.
Like Gary Vaynerchuck.
He had an unfair advantage that already existed and was very obvious.
His family’s wine business was already making $3 million before he grew it to $60 million. The man had room to take chances and still land on his feet if he failed.
Unfortunately, we don’t have that advantage.
But an unfair advantage isn’t something you just have. It can also be created.
Ash Ambirge was parked in a Kmart parking lot with only $26 to her name. She’d been assaulted by her boyfriend and had barely escaped with her life and belongings an hour ago.
At that moment, her education and previous corporate job experience (which were both impressive) didn’t come to her aid. Her unfair advantage — that she’d built — did.
You see, she’d quietly been growing a blog on the side called The Middle Finger Project. It had 2500 subscribers. When the shit hit the fan and her survival was at stake, she turned to her email list — her unfair advantage — to earn money she desperately needed by pre-selling an ebook.
Of course, at that moment, Ash didn’t think of her list as her unfair advantage. She had wayyyy too much at stake to even think about anything other than surviving. But that’s what it was.
Now here’s the real whopper.
You have an unrealized unfair advantage — maybe even more than one.
An advantage we may have but might not see it as one.
Mine was not being the breadwinner of our family for the last 10 years. I wasn’t responsible for putting food on the table. As a freelance copywriter, I could afford to stop accepting low pay even if my client roaster dried up.
And that’s exactly how I grew my rates. I would raise my rates and keep quoting them until someone accepted. I’ve gone as long as 2-4 months of work famine before I broke into a higher pay bracket.
I could afford to stick to my rates because I wasn’t worried about making ends meet.
When it comes to unfair advantages, you can do two things.
1. Find an unfair advantage in your current situation.
Something that gives you an edge.
It could be free childcare in the form of a grandparent. Or a part-time job that supplements your income.
I know a freelancer who supplemented her income by house pet-sitting for folks who were leaving their pets behind while they traveled. She saved on rent, WiFi, and food expenses and continued freelancing full time.
Even if it feels like your current situation has no unfair advantage, evaluate your situation anyway.
Looking at things from a different perspective can give us the edge we need.
2. Build and develop your unfair advantage.
Ash’s example is extreme but effective. When she started The Middle Finger Project, she didn’t build her email list thinking it’ll come handy when she was battered, broke, and homeless.
You have the benefit of being more aware.
If you don’t have an unfair advantage, develop one. Learn a skill or build an asset that you can use in a pinch.
It could be an email list, an info product, or a podcast where you interview decision makers in your target market.
Even if there’s an entirely unrelated topic you’re passionate about, pursue it.
My friend and fellow freelance writer, Lauren Tharp, has been on a mission to lose weight. She’s been blogging about her weight and health struggles. Not related to her writing right? But a local gym not only hired her to write for them they gave her a free membership and asked her to track her progress on their blog.
If you don’t have an unfair advantage right now, start thinking about creating one now.
What can you start doing today that will give you an unfair advantage six months down the line?
If you don’t, it’ll be six month later and you’ll be standing exactly where you are right now… wondering why the advice of a successful entrepreneur didn’t work for you even though you did everything they said.
Me? I lost my first unfair advantage when our family grew and I’m now contributing to the family income too.
Time to build a new one.