While it might sometimes feel safer to maintain the status quo in the business world, successfully disrupting an industry can yield many more benefits- not only for the disruptor, but also for their clients and customers. As Caroline Howard at Forbes explains “disruption displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new and more efficient and worthwhile.” The act of disruption is effectively opening up innovative, new and better options which ignore the established norms. This can be done through utilising new technology, re-thinking entire business models, or simply tweaking existing products or ideas to target a new range of customers. In our rapidly changing world, business is constantly moving forward and ‘the way things are done’ is always evolving.
Who are the current disruptors
Some recent disruptors have turned their respective industries on their heads and forever changed our ideas of how we access goods and services. Take Airbnb for example. Its key success has been how it has entirely rethought the concept of booking accommodation, from allowing anyone with a spare room the means and tools to market themselves as a business, to creating entirely new consumer behavior by providing cheaper, more convenient and more ‘authentic’ alternatives to hotels. Thus disrupting both the industry’s ‘value creation’ and ‘value consumption’.
Most successful disruptors have been entrepreneurs in new start-ups, and this is no surprise. In fact, entrepreneurs are uniquely placed to disrupt an industry as they are generally not averse to embracing new technologies or adopting new business models in order to capture new markets, and they aren’t bound to the entrenched business processes that can be present in incumbent businesses.
“Successful disruption requires deep industry knowledge.”
Successful disruption requires deep industry knowledge
So let’s say you spot a gap in the market or envisage how to solve a problem more efficiently. In other words, you have the next big game-changer; how do you manage to subvert an entire industry? It takes perseverance. Don’t be disheartened if people are initially skeptical. It’s completely normal for business partners, investors, and even customers to be hesitant of change. Be prepared to explain why your idea is superior and how it surpasses the current system. This obviously requires you to understand not only your concept, but the entire wider industry inside out, and thus a good foundation in business theory can only help you. In the words of Marie Chevrier: “Successful disruption requires deep industry knowledge.”
Feedback is a vital and continual stage in the process. You need to be able to quickly adapt, innovate and react to customers’ requirements in order to be successful. This is one of many advantages of having solid relationships with your clients – you offer them a higher level of service, and they offer feedback which enables you to improve what you are doing, as well as customer loyalty, a mutually beneficial exchange. It also pays to listen to the advice of others in the industry, and realise that, however far you have come, there is always more to learn.
Whilst it’s certainly no easy feat to disrupt an industry, a background knowledge of business, passion and perseverance, as well as a focus on client relationships and not being afraid to revise your ideas are all essential requirements. One last piece of advice from Ben Young, CEO of Nudge, “Play to your strengths […] It drives incumbents wild.”