How to be Disruptive

We’re living in the age of the disruptors, and they’re thriving! Hardly a day goes by without news of some innovation brought to the market that challenges the status quo, making those who are plodding along with business as usual appear to be veritable fuddy duddies!

The millennials are leading this disruptive charge into a brave new world, but if you aren’t a disruptor, does that mean there’s no place for you as a small business owner or even an employee. Business today hinges on taking risks, and employers and investors are on the lookout for dashing, daring visionaries and game-changers who can bring ideas to the table.

Of course there have always been disruptors among us – think Henry Ford, Bill Gates and Richard Branson, to name but a few. They used to be a rare breed. We’d look at them and shrug our shoulders, believing them to be a little bit crazy and eccentric, and down-right lucky to have had their risks pay off. Nowadays, though, most start-ups feel driven to be disrupting something. Every fresh entrepreneur wants to be an overnight Uber.

We can’t all disrupt taxi services, obviously, but if you want to be a disruptor you can look to your own circumstances, skills, knowledge and surroundings to find something that is problematic, and find an innovative solution. Once you’ve found it and implemented your business idea, it doesn’t stop there … you need to keep on improving and marketing your idea so that it becomes a lasting change in the fabric of society. You will need to face up to competition – others will undoubtedly take on your idea and try to do it better than you. As a disruptor you can’t rest on your laurels. You need to build your business around a culture of creativity and innovation, keeping the spirit of disruption alive, otherwise you risk being a one-hit wonder.

There is a perception among some that disruption is only possible in the field of Tech. Not so at all (though of course being in a fast-paced developmental stage this area is ripe for disruptive picking). In fact earlier this year the list of the most disruptive startups in the world – of which a third are from the UK – included a big slice of disruption in the health sector, general business, artificial intelligence and finance. The enterprises covered all sorts of innovations from a charger for your devices that renders batteries full in 30 seconds, putting robots to work on farms, and improving sanitation in East Africa, to a “morning after” pill for chickens.

Many of the most influential disruptive businesses both past and present have used existing technology and repurposed it to solve real-world problems. It’s not about invention, but rather innovation.

All you need do then, to join the enterprising movers and shakers, is come up with an idea that you believe has the potential to disrupt things within an industry, then turn it into a workable business model and concentrate on growing the market for it. The business model itself can be innovative and disruptive, moving beyond the conventional and traditional to become dynamic with multi-dimensional strategies.

So go out there with your start-up, and be disruptive. It’s a risk, but as long as you make sure it’s a carefully calculated risk, it’s one worth taking.

If you don’t think you’re cut out for what can be an exhausting process while you passionately slog through uncharted territory, following your mission to succeed, stick to a traditional business that will serve you well. Be watchful, though …. the disruptive future is likely to catch up with you.