Blue oceans vs read oceans, and how and why they matter. Do you know the difference between the two?


This post is inspired by something I read by Ryan Holiday (definitely look him up).

It’s not even just specific to people with businesses or looking to start one, it can apply to anyone – even if you’re in a 9-5 job.

Or just in general life, and in how you interact with others.

I only heard about the concept of blue vs red oceans lately, but this is what it means:

A ‘red ocean’ is a very competitive market where there is lots of thrashing about among competitors fighting for their slice of the market (hence the water has turned red).

An example could be web design, web hosting, SEO (in fact, any web area!), or 90% of products and services (eCommerce, accounting services, etc, etc.).

In fact, even driving instructors, guitar teachers and so on are in a red ocean too!

While a ‘blue ocean’ is one that has few competitors so far (calm and blue and relatively unexploited). Examples include any new and emerging areas with people only dipping their toes in the water so far; so maybe augmented reality, chatbots etc. Bitcoin would have been one early on!

Anyway, you may hear advice talking about how you should carve out your niche in a blue ocean and focus on that, but realistically this isn’t easy or even possible for most businesses. And it’s not exactly the way to look at it either.

Also, if there is a market for your product or service, you are bound to find it in a red ocean, and that’s ok!! Competition is good and it validates that there is a market for what you are doing.

Instead of trying to find a blue ocean through looking at your product or service and how it relates to the market, here’s what I’d do instead. I would start to see your blue ocean as something *altogether different*.

What is that, you might ask?


Your blue ocean is *you*, because while there are a million consultancy businesses, eCommerce stores, flower shops, driving instructors and niche websites for X in the world, there is quite literally, undeniably, only one YOU.

So focus on THAT. While there may be hundreds of millions of products and services that are fundamentally the exact same, there is only one you.

And therein lies YOUR differentiator.

So start thinking about what it is about you that makes your business different from others, what is it about you that makes the way you DELIVER your product or service different, and what is it that you add in your own way that nobody else can.

That’s where you can compete, and that’s how you carve out your niche.

Some examples / ideas?

-It might be the unique way you handle customers when they make a first approach or inquiry. Could you start doing it differently to other businesses? What kind of changes could you make to your process there?

-It might be the way you go above and beyond when it comes to making sure the customer has a great experience after they have come on board with you. Of course time can be tight, but where can you make the most impact?

-It could be that check-in call that you make two weeks after they have purchased from you, to make sure they are absolutely happy.

-It might be the way you help someone out when they weren’t expecting it, just because you wanted to help them out (and this kind of thing tends to get re-payed, even when you aren’t expecting it to be).

-It might be stepping into your customer, site visitor, or even your boss’ shoes to think for a second how they might be perceiving a situation.

Anyway thanks for reading and hopefully it gets you thinking.

I’d also love hear your comments below. What is your blue ocean?

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