Many businesses try to compete with price. Or compete with features. Or dependability. Convenience.

The problem is, most of these competitive advantages become commodities over time. Leading to a price (feature – you name it) race down to the bottom. Almost everything will become a commodity in the end. With the exception of being human.

Being human can’t be scaled (meaning: it can’t be bought), it can’t be institutionalized ( we immediately feel the difference between a disneyfied and a real human interaction) and your competitors can’t “out-human” you.

As a small coffee shop you can’t win against Starbucks on product reliability, supplier margins or advertising budget. Your competitive advantage is being human. It’s the hug my daughter gets every Sunday morning from her favorite barista. It’s them knowing our order in advance and having it almost ready when we walk into the door. It’s the real smile they put on their customers faces.

There are many customers that desire the reliability and efficiency of Starbucks. It takes a lot to keep this machine alive: loyalty cards, free WiFi, advertising dollars, etc. Starbucks has to invest constantly to attract the same audience over and over again. Being human doesn’t require that. Doing something special for a customer, won’t ever be forgotten. How do you value a hug? How do you value a smile? How do you value a human connection?

Being human is the most underrated competitive advantage