Second place is in business the place to be

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Being second -or third or #100 – is for losers. The Internet is full of demotivating sentences like this (citations and quotes) and they are WRONG! And I will explain why! 

Richard Branson is a great example of a super-entrepreneur that has never been first. Think about it! Virgin atlantic is not number one in the world, Virgin Money is not the biggest bank, Virgin media is not the biggest telco in the country or even in town. Branson genius is to be disruptive, to select the frustrated of the marketplace and never to go too big (he sells the company when it gets too big). 

Branson knows that the effort and money needed to become number one are 10 times the one you need to #2 or #3.  

It’s even worst if you are creating a new market. You’ll be doing most of research and development that followers can leverage without spending a penny. Being number 1 is 100 times more expensive. Forbes has an article about the fast followers advantage: “Fast Followers Not First Movers Are The Real Winners“.

Flip the coin

If you flip the coin and take a positive approach, being second (or third or #100) means you are close to the top, and if you are on your way to the top it’s because you are doing things better/cheaper/faster/easier than the number one.

Often #2 or #100 is  going up fast, eating market shares that #1 is not interested in. At the financial level the second often has a better return on investment, better margin and delivers better results to customers. 


Startups are never number one when they start and still everyone is “leader in their market”. How is that possible? Easy, reduce your market until you become the leader. If Bartlet street has only one shoe shop, then that shop is leader in its market (of one street). Seth Godin explained it very well in his short book the dip.


Focus on progress, focus on improving, be smart in leveraging what is already in the marketplace. 

Have a great day, have a great life

PS: don’t search Bartlet street, it does not exist

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