Let’s get real. We as business owners are looking at the dramatic changes taking place in global economy with wild eyed wonder. What, we ask, will happen in my industry and how will I react when it does. Because we are seeing disruptors and disruption in industries that we previously thought were bullet proof. Postal services, Hotel chains, Taxi’s, Retail chains and Shopping Malls, Publishing and lots and lots more. Everywhere you look industry titans are scrambling to maintain their edge as “disruptors” approach their Markets from a completely different angle. The key question to small business owners becomes where do we fit into the disruption continuum?
Are we closely monitoring our industry trends to see what is going to happen or are we taking an active approach to looking at ways we too might take a creative, out of the box idea and turn our industry on its head. Yes, I know we have so many other things to think about – do we really need to take a look at this as well? The answer quite simply is YES! You can’t afford to get left behind. Does that mean that you have to become a ground breaking game changer? No but it does mean that you have to adapt and keep your eye on the big picture in what is happening in your ecosystem. You can’t afford to bury your head in the sand on this one. Let me give you some examples of some huge disruptors. Airbnb is the largest hospitality company in the world – they don’t own a single hotel or bricks and mortar rental property. Uber has transformed the taxi and limo service market and is now encroaching on the food delivery service industry as it will deliver food and drinks to you in addition to driving you around. Uber doesn’t own a single vehicle. Packages being delivered by drones, online shopping instead of going to a mall, lab grown diamonds instead of being mined. The innovative examples are endless.
So, what should we be doing to at least try to stay ahead of the curve. Here are a few simple steps that you can put into place so you can be in the flow and not be left behind.
1. Look at customer pain points and inconveniences
As business owners we have to constantly examine what problems our customers have and how we can offer them greater convenience – save them time, money or ideally both. Customers often don’t know what they really want and so it falls to us to think about the options. Let’s take the traditional retail store as an example. I live in Canada and we have long cold winters. The problems with trekking to a shopping mall in the middle of a freezing cold January are obvious. It is simply not convenient to drive through snow trudge through snow in the parking lot, get to a overheated mall and lug all your winter gear with you as you shop. You get the picture. Enter Amazon with hassle free online shopping delivered right to your door. It started with books and now is the largest online “retailer” in North America. They solved a major customer pain point. Now You need to look at yours.
2. Explore and Define New Eco-Systems
The next key element in disrupting an industry and solving customer headaches is to create new ecosystems. What is a ‘Business Ecosystem‘ The network of organizations – including suppliers, distributors, customers, competitors, government agencies and so on – involved in the delivery of a specific product or service through both competition and cooperation. In other words take a look at every aspect of who is involved in your business and brainstorm how you can do things better. 3. Explore Ways To Cut costs or Save Time
Dramatically cutting costs to your customers is a great way to become a disrupter, or at least not get left behind. This is not to say cut profit, we still want to make money, but look for ways to eliminate people or processes that you don’t really need. You can buy a book online or even download it much cheaper than going to the Mall and buying it. They have cut out the paper and printing costs, not to mention the cost of storing books on shelves in stores. You get the idea. Anything you can do to make it easier for your customer puts you on the disrupter path.
But wait you say, I am only a start-up or solo-preneur, very small business I don’t need to put any of this in place. To which I say, why not get ahead of the curve and implement these things now. Disrupt or be disrupted – your call.