Picks and Shovels

Picks and Shovels for Modern Businesses


The expression “picks and shovels” originated during the California Gold Rush in the mid-19th century.

Picks and Shovels finding gold

The term is derived from the idea that while many prospectors sought fortune by mining for gold, the individuals who sold essential tools like picks and shovels to these miners consistently made profits regardless of whether the miners found gold.

The picks and shovel sellers provided the tools and infrastructure that enabled the gold mining activity.

Picks and Shovels Sellers Today

In modern business, the “picks and shovels” concept applies to companies that supply essential tools, services, or infrastructure businesses need in a particular industry.

Instead of directly engaging in the industry’s more speculative or competitive aspects, these companies provide the necessary resources to enable other businesses to operate and thrive.

This strategy is often seen as more stable and reliable because it caters to the continuous demand for foundational resources.

Business Examples Include:

Tech Industry:

Companies that provide cloud computing services, data analytics tools, and software development platforms.


Businesses offering logistics, payment processing, and website hosting services.


Suppliers of medical equipment, software for patient management, and pharmaceutical distribution.

This approach often yields consistent revenue streams and can be less risky than directly competing in the more volatile parts of the market.

Reasons to Buy a Service:

Buyers of services provided by “picks and shovels” styled companies can feel secure with their choice of provider for several reasons:

Stable Demand:

These companies supply essential tools, services, or infrastructure that other businesses need to operate. The demand for these foundational services is generally stable and consistent, reducing the risk of sudden market changes affecting their operations.

Proven Track Record:

Many “picks and shovels” providers have established themselves as reliable and indispensable in their respective industries. Their proven track record of success and dependability makes them a safe bet for clients looking for consistency and quality.

Focus on Core Competencies:

Businesses can focus more on their primary activities by outsourcing essential but non-core functions to specialised providers. This specialisation often leads to higher efficiency and better quality services from “picks and shovels” companies.

Competitive moat protecting the castle
Competitive Moat:

These companies often have a solid competitive moat, meaning they have significant advantages that protect them from competitors. This could be due to their scale, unique technology, or specialised expertise, ensuring their longevity and reliability.

Support for Growth and Innovation:

Picks and shovels providers often invest in the latest technologies and infrastructure improvements, which can support their clients’ growth and innovation. Their role in enabling broader industry trends, like green infrastructure and digital transformation, positions them as forward-thinking partners.

By choosing “picks and shovels” providers, businesses gain access to essential, high-quality services from companies with stable demand, a proven track record, and a strong market position.

James Campbell - Contact Details