Table Stakes

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.

 

They don’t have to be the world’s best burgers (as exemplified by chains such as McDonands) but you’re not going to generate any friends or repeat business by making the world’s worst.

 

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?

 

What stories do you tell people about your burgers and what stories do they tell friends about their experience?

 

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.

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