Building a customer base now goes beyond offering cheap substandard products. Improvement and ease of marketing have made this all possible thanks to the rise of social media platforms. On the other hand, this also creates an environment for a hyper-competitive market across various sectors even those that looked immune to technology such as Healthcare. How can one stand out?
Here’s what entrepreneurs and business owners had to say on their best tips on being disruptive.
#1-Timing is important
When it comes to taking advantage of being disruptive as an entrepreneur in the modern-day, the best tip that I could offer would be to ensure your timing is perfect. No matter how your strategy fits into the industry you are targeting or what you are planning to do, if you want to be disruptive and truly benefit from this strategy, then you need to closely analyze your market, see where things are going, and take a closer look at technological performance. Identify the best time to make your mark and truly be “disruptive” in terms of coming in with a bang.
Thanks to Joe Flanagan, GetSongBPM!
#2- Passion for the mission and vision will sustain you
If you don’t start with something that is motivating and passionate for you, then you will never have the capability to make it and stand out. Now having done this entrepreneur hero’s journey three times, going from having raised zero to millions and raising investor capital, I can see the patterns more clearly. There are always tough times, and it usually takes one year of pure grind and determination to prove out the company and get into revenue, one year of frustration to stabilize the company, and one year to optimize it and make it efficient. Entrepreneurs have a tendency towards shiny objects and new companies, so three years of hard work is a lifetime for all of us. Given that, the only thing that can sustain us through that is if the passion for the mission and vision is so strong that it is worth the pain and suffering to make it happen. I personally cheat, because I only start companies that have double bottom lines where we make money and make a difference helping others.
Thanks to David Metzler, CBDCapitalGroup!
#3- Get out of your velvet rut
My best tip is to embrace disruption and get out of your velvet rut aka your comfort zone. Take a cold shower as a way to train your brain to embrace discomfort and disrupt yourself in the morning. Research has shown it fights depression, burns fat and reduces inflammation. (The research had me at burns fat :))
Thanks to John Livesay
#4- Borrow disruptive ideas from a different industry
The best way to disrupt an industry is to borrow disruptive ideas from a different industry. The sharing economy is a perfect example. Whatever the first company in this space was, many entrepreneurs subsequently leveraged the concept of software connecting asset owners to those wanting to rent their assets. Think AirBnB, Uber, Turo. It’s all about being aware of current trends in the market and applying those to a niche that you’re an expert in. Pellaton is is a great example of this. Leverage the growing trend of group exercise classes combined with an at-home device with a subscription model and you have a $4 billion business.
Thanks to Calloway Cook, Illuminate Labs!
#5- Ask a lot of questions
I am naturally curious and love talking to people for ideas and inspiration so when I meet interesting people it is just natural for me to ask them about themselves and what keeps them up at night and when I hear about things that they are dealing with where I can be helpful I want to roll up my sleeves and jump in. I love solving problems and helping people so for me starting a conversation is the best way to disrupt the status quo.
Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!
#6- Be prepared for surprising alliances
Those threatened by your disruption are unlikely to get on board. But you may find yourself with allies, with supporters, from unexpected places. For example, when we created a solution for low back pain we initially thought chiropractors would be natural allies because 80% of their clients come seeking treatment for low back pain. So we were surprised when the chiropractic community showed little interest in our approach. On reflection, chiropractors were actually interested in treating low back pain; eliminating back pain, well, not so much. The physical therapy, pilates, yoga, tai chi, and Feldenkrais communities turned out to be much more receptive because their approach, like ours, is to overcome back pain once and for all by gradually improving posture and core strength. Lesson learned: you don’t choose your allies; they choose you.
Thanks to Dr. Turner Osler, QOR360!
#7- Complacency kills
In the Army, complacent soldiers may overlook roadside bombs or other explosive devices. In business, complacency kills the drive to break into new markets and grow. The ability and instinct to disrupt remains vital to pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and getting your company the attention it deserves. Don’t be afraid to try something crazy. When I arranged one of my drones to deliver frozen yogurt on a college campus, people said that I was insane. A competitor called the local police on me. However, the eyes it drew to my website and new customers it brought to my business were well worth the risk. Embrace the seemingly absurd, and you’ll never stop learning.
Thanks to Jeremy M. Latchaw, Macatawa Unmanned Systems (MUS)!
#8- Keep evolving or you get left behind
In business being disruptive is the name of the game. In my eyes, you either keep evolving or you get left behind. We (Sweat Fixx) entered an overly saturated, heavily cutthroat Boston fitness market and disrupted it by bringing a workout that was never seen before coupled with a culture that hadn’t really existed in the fitness industry. We took a piece of workout equipment that sits in almost every gym and hardly gets used and reinvented the way people use it. By taking a rower and using it for more than just cardio – we were able to create different upper body, leg and core workouts that helped change the way people viewed the rower. This helped give a spark of interest again to the rowing machine. This not only disrupted the current boutique market in our area that was focused mainly on spin and treadmill studios, but it also hit a completely different market, those who need low impact and couldn’t find a fitness studio to get it. The trend of workout injuries and joint pain is on the rise, so why not change the way people get their cardio? To top it all off, we came into the industry with the motto of community over competition. For many years, fitness studios have been cutting each other down and instead we try to collaborate with as many studios as we possibly can. We want to create a network of studios that support and complement each other so that members don’t get burnt out, but instead are excited to keep coming back and trying other studios WITH you.
Thanks to Elise Caira, Sweat Fixx!
#9- Two tips
Realize there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Especially in the better-for-you world, and in the end consumers will decide which better-for-you element is more important-but it must have some kind of health halo. Is it fresher? Is it non-GMO? Does it have protein or fiber? Does it satisfy and taste great? These are the long-term trends that are here to stay, and Peatos caters to them all. Inform your audience of the problem you’re trying to solve and don’t be afraid to tell them why your solution is worth the switch from the bigger industry leaders. Today’s conscious consumers are more engaged than ever with brands and companies, and to truly convert people to eating healthy snacks, they must feel the same satisfaction of the junk snacks they’ve traditionally enjoyed.
Thanks to Nick Desai, Peatos!
#10- Outsmart and outpace
To be disruptive, you need to outpace and outsmart existing enterprises. While most are in the doldrums whining about the war on talent, companies that continue to lead (e.g., Harvard, NASA, Google, Microsoft, SpaceNet, Fujistu and others) have already innovated to use the power of the Gig Economy at scale for staffing, projects and bringing product to market. They know that fighting the old battle for talent is a losing proposition (especially as most businesses can’t serve up the same perks as the Googles of the world, or entice the top technologists with *the* most challenging or high-paid work). However, understanding, embracing and unleashing crowdsourcing models results in companies outperforming competitors and increasing their rate of experimentation, execution, and ultimately, disruption. Much like Neo from the MATRIX movies learns (from a young teacher)…there is no spoon when it comes to a Gig Economy workforce. If you’re willing to look at digital inclusion, pay for performance and talent sourcing from a disruptive new perspective, you can bend the spoon any way you please.
Thanks to Clinton Bonner, Topcoder!
#11- Never use the same idea twice
As an entrepreneur, being disruptive is a huge part of day-to-day business activities. A trick that I use is to never use the same idea twice. Even if a project has been successful, it still needs a pair of fresh eyes and a little brainstorming to push it forward. That’s the key – you have to always move forward. Take a look at your projects and tasks, and find a new way to promote, market or share what you are accomplishing.
Thanks to Andrea Loubier, Mailbird!
#12- Learn to be brave
Disrupting an industry takes guts along with an understanding of why the status quo is failing in today’s digital-first world. Innovation and the modernization of business has lead to the near-death of many outdated business models which has resulted in a backlash towards disruptive companies. Thankfully, disruptors like Uber and Airbnb are lead by brave leaders who continue their pursuit of a better world.If you want to lead the next game-changing company, I recommend** learning about what it truly means to be brave. Disrupting an industry is no small feat and it can be extremely risky to change the way people go about their daily lives. My advice, be prepared to take a bullet or two when you’re trying to change the world – I promise that the payoff, in the end, is worth it.
Thanks to William Griggs, Virtual Reality Rental.co!
#13- Get well connected!
If you’re new to an industry, it’s hard to be disruptive if you’re not aware of what your competitors are working on. Get connected and learn about what really is cutting edge, and what may’ve already been tried and discarded. The more connected you are to the big, medium, and small players in your industry, the more you have a feel for where it is heading, and where you might be able to re-direct it to.
Thanks to Reuben Yonatan, GetVOIP!
#14- Think like a kid again
If you are in a deeply entrenched industry like insurance, the earth moving disruptive ideas are not going to come from inside. You won’t hear them from your coworkers or your competitors. You need to shake yourself up first and think like a kid again. I’m constantly surveying my teenage son, what he’s doing, what his friends are up to, and what new technologies they are using daily. The youth are changing the way we communicate and interact, and to disrupt our businesses we have to think like them sometimes. Because of my son, we were one of the first insurance companies on Instagram, we constantly use texting and SMS to reach our clients, and we have our team co-located all throughout the country versus in a stuffy office. Thinking like a kid and disrupting our business has been monumental for our growth.
Thanks to Jimmy McMillan, Heart Life Insurance!