Geeky Strategy Concepts - Where do your strengths come from?

May I geek out on strategy terms for a moment?

In my days as a doctoral student, my favorite theory in strategic management was the Resource Based View (RBV) of the firm[1] because it looked at the resources within a company as a source for sustained competitive advantage. The Industrial/Organization view, on the other hand, argued that industry factors were all important. What we now know is that success is a combination of the two coupled with external factors that cannot be controlled by one company (hence the OT in a SWOT analysis), but I digress.

For a business’ Strength to become a sustained competitive advantage, the resource needs to be valuable.

For a resource to be valuable, it needs to be rare, costly to imitate, and not easily substitutable.

Another component, the ability to exploit these resources, has more recently been added to the list. Resources fall into one of three categories: Physical, human, and organizational resources.


This one is my favorite. Each person is unique. What we bring to coaching and what we bring to our coaching business is also unique. Who we know, what training we have received, where we are in our life’s journey, the experiences we have had, the financial situation we bring to our business, and the entirety of our lived experiences on this planet are not just rare, but impossible to imitate or substitute. No one can be you. No one coaches just like you.

Costly to imitate

Think about all the training and education from your life. Think about all the coaching you have received. Think about all the money and time spent to get you to where you are today. Consider the investments you have already made in your business. It would be very costly for someone to try to imitate you and your business. If someone tried to imitate your path, they would not be able to.


No one can be substituted for you. Every coach, just like every person, is unique, and while we all coach according to ICF Core Competencies, we bring so much more to the coaching relationship. It is why we do informational interviews before deciding to coach someone. We need to determine fit because when we fit with someone, that particular fit cannot be replaced by someone else.

Ability to exploit resources

As a quick aside, business language isn’t always palatable. Maybe rather than exploit we use a more accurate (albeit wordy) term:

Readiness to bring all our resources to building our best coaching business. When we are ready, we bring all of the amazing power, experience, presence, compassion, empathy, powerful questions, partnering, and everything else to our coaching business.

That is sustained competitive advantage.

That will build your business.

Want to get clear on what your valuable resources are? Get coached on it!

[1] Barney, J. B. (1991). Firm Resources and Sustained Competitive Advantage. Journal of Management, Vol. 17, pp.99–120.

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