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How to Understand Your Competitive Advantage: the VRIO Framework

If you’ve never heard of the VRIO framework, don’t worry, you’re probably not alone. In fact, it’s likely that you use it (if you’re a business owner, especially) but don’t even know it. Understanding your competitive advantage is a large part of getting to the core definition of your business and your ‘why’ behind everything you do. It also helps you promote your products and services to consumers, and it can enhance your confidence as well. When you’re a VA (or entering any already established field of business) you always need something to give you that edge – a sense of newness. This is exactly what we’re going to help you find today.

The Base Level

Unless you created the field you are working in, you are already late to the party. Which means it’s a game of catch-up that no one loves playing, but only the strongest and most innovative will win. The first step in understanding this is coming to terms with the fact that customers are not going to give you their service just because you are there. You need to sell them on your product or service that you provide; convince them you’re better than everyone else! If you are mirroring someone else in the field or offering basic services, you’ll soon realize that won’t work and you’ll have no money to pay rent (or for that $7 coffee).

VRIO Framework

So onto the framework. After you’ve come to terms that you need to step out of your shell and find what makes you unique to everyone else, you need to understand your competitive advantage. The VRIO framework is based on four assets:

Value: Is your brand offering value to your consumers? If not, this means you are at a competitive disadvantage and you need to reassess to discover how you can add value to your services or products.

Rarity: Are you in control of rare or in-demand products? Are your services highly-sought after? If you have value, but are lacking rarity, you are in a place of competitive parity. Your services are common enough to find elsewhere, making the market challenging (not impossible), but it’s recommended that you go back and reassess.

Imitability: How easy is it to replicate your service or product? If it is easy to copy or create with different inputs, but your resources have value and rarity, you have a temporary competitive advantage. You require moderate effort to stay ahead of your competition – you should still go back and reassess.

Organization: Does your company have an organized management strategy, structure, and culture to capitalize on services and/or products being offered? If not, but you have answered yes to the previous three, it is still quite tough to realize the true potential of your product or service without a suitable organization strategy. Your company will have an unused competitive advantage and you should reassess how to attain the structural organization required for a competitive advantage.

If your organization or specific product or service successfully has all four of these qualities, then you have discovered a sustainable competitive advantage! This means that what you have is different from what others have, and they can’t copy you or take it away from you. This sustainable competitive advantage is what you should always be aiming for in your business, but do remember that it is hard to create, so be prepared to settle for a little less if you need to.

Following this framework will not guarantee entrepreneurial success, but it will help you to build growth within your organization and target areas of improvement. If you are just starting out as a VA, we recommend enrolling in our TVL VA Course where we teach you the basics of VA communication, social media management and content creation, time management skills, and more. All of which are transferable skills and can be used in other career paths as well. To learn more about the VA Course, head to our webpage at

Alternatively, you can always opt for outsourcing your business strategy and development to further your investments and business. This can come with its own pitfalls such as associated costs, finding the ‘right’ person for the job, and understanding that you will never be able to fully grasp your business’ strategy and development plan.

If you have any questions, you can reach out to us through our contact page. Also, be sure to follow us on social media where we post VA tips and tricks, lifestyle and travel content, and more!


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