In business, table stakes are the cost of admission, the price you pay to get into the game.
They are the minimum entry requirement that you need to have in order to have a credible competitive starting position.
If you want to be in the burger business, the table stakes involve having a kitchen and making consistently good quality burgers.
Once you’ve got the basics, the table stakes, it’s time to think about who are the customers you want to serve, what they’re looking for in a burger and how you can deliver that. What is going to differentiate your burger from the others? Is it big, juicy, or healthy? Is it fast or slow?
You’re not going to stand out to anybody by claiming “we make good burgers”. But for a foodie, non meat eating millennial perhaps staking a claim to “instagram-worthy slow cooked vegan burgers” is going to attract some attention.
Of course table stakes aren’t limited to the food industry (although table steaks are).
What are the table stakes in your field? Once you’ve checked the boxes for the most basic of requirements there’s no point in ever referring to them again. Instead think about what you offer to your customer, client or tribe that makes you remarkable and make that the feature you promote and the story you tell.