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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

Stop Trying to be the Next Uber

Your clients neither want nor need it.

Any reader of this weekly blog knows I loathe the overuse of generic business jargon. These words and phrases take up space but say very little. For example, at any business meeting, you might hear something like this: “We need to think outside the box to take our business to the next level by leveraging our bleeding-edge core competencies, utilizing best practices, and creating value-added and robust solutions for our clients.”

What does that even mean?

It seems that saying nothing of tangible use – and taking up a lot of space in doing so – has become an art form. Lately, this practice has been elevated to include a phrase that puzzles me: “Our goal is to become the Uber of <fill in the industry here>.”

Since its founding in 2009, Uber has spread like wildfire across the globe, wholly disrupted (perhaps even destroyed) the taxi industry in major metropolitan areas, and is worth around $112 billion today. To make the story even more astounding, consider that Uber owns no vehicles, yet they are the largest taxi company in the world.

Due to both the visibility and success of Uber, people from almost every type of business now clamor to be the “Uber of” their industry. Many think this is a forward-thinking perspective when, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Very few individuals or organizations that experience wild success do so by merely copying the approach of another. Instead, they boldly blaze their own trail and have the foresight to understand transactional friction points so they can be removed. In other words, they possess the ability to both comprehend and predict what their audience needs to move quickly through a purchasing journey.

In the case of Uber, it was as simple as founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp having difficulty hailing a cab on a snowy evening in Paris. Their solution – brilliant in its simplicity – was to create an app where the user had to only tap a button to get a ride. They didn’t set out to disrupt the taxi industry, but their solution removed so much friction from that process that it’s difficult to imagine traveling in a large city without a ride-sharing app. It was original, met a need, and dramatically reduced friction for their target audience.

In business, your clients don’t want or need you to be the next Uber of anything; they need you to make their purchasing journey easier. Instead of trying so hard to be the next “Uber of” something, take a close look at the purchasing journey of your clients, find the friction points, and remove as much of them as possible. Precious few have the ability, patience, or resources to truly disrupt an industry. A much more realistic – and dramatic – way to impact your bottom line is to take the necessary steps to make it easier for clients to get what they want.

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