Table Stakes

Via Wikipedia, a canonical bookmark for the business phrase “table stakes” that I’ve heard a few times recently.

In business, table stakes are the minimum entry requirement for a market or business arrangement. They can be price, cost model, technology, or other capability that represents a minimum requirement to have a credible competitive starting position in a market or other business arrangement.

For example, to be a wireless service provider, the table stakes are the basic features you need to have in order to be in that business to achieve foundation capability: network, handsets, a data service, a mail server, etc. Beyond that, real competitive advantage comes from additional nimbleness and cost or product differentiation.

A reference to poker and other gambling games where the “table stakes” represent a limit on the amount a player can win or lose in the play of a single hand.

Note: I’m learning lots of new business terminology, so if you have more insights or examples to illustrate this one — please leave a comment.