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Top 5 tips for being a disruptive innovator

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Disruption – or the potential for disruption – is relevant to every business and industry today. Navigating threats and opportunities effectively in this environment is critical to the strategy of every savvy business.

Are you ready to embrace disruption, push the boundaries to meet the needs of your clients, and your people, in a bold and innovative way?

Those who are looking to take a huge leap of faith to shake up their industry need to understand that it won’t come without challenges – you are in for a bumpy ride – but it is well worth it! Here are my top tips for established business owners and start-ups like, bold enough to challenge the status quo.

1. Be brave. Disruption is very scary – you are challenging the status quo, the way things have been done for a long time, the true, tried and tested model. Many people will tell you that you are wrong, your idea won’t work or that the market isn’t ready. Get ready to hear the words “but it’s always been this way” as a justification for why your industry will always remain that way. Most people don’t like change.

You will need an inner resolve, good old fashioned grit, and the courage of your convictions to get through hundreds of these conversations before you find the one that will kick start your idea toward success.

2. Know your market inside and out; work WITH clients to understand how a market can change to suit their needs. Take people on the journey with you – if people in the market are included in your research they will be interested, and emotionally invested, in the outcome. They will be your biggest supporters.

Know the problem you are solving by spending time in the market if you can, and see it from all perspectives (e.g. as a supplier, a customer, an observer). If you can’t do that, then make sure you spend plenty of time listening to people who are in all those positions. Make sure you ask as many questions as possible and be curious about the answers – if they are different to what you were expecting, that is very powerful information.

I also encourage you to create the answer (and many versions of it); don’t wait for it to be self-evident.

Once you’ve started, stand back observe and understand its impact. What are people saying? What are they noticing first? Broad feedback is helpful to continuing to refine the message and the offer toward acceptance and ultimately success.

3. Be clear about your point of difference. Most disruptors come into a mature market with strong leaders who have a large market share. To stand out in this market you must have a very simple and clear point of difference that make clients sit up and take notice. This cannot just be “better” or “cheaper” – there will always be someone else able to offer the same work for less; to truly disrupt an industry, your idea must be different.

Make sure you understand the appeal of your product or service from the client’s perspective. What are they seeing / hearing / thinking? What are their key drivers? What conversation / thought process will they need to have with their colleagues / families / friends in order to use this?

4. Have a strong team who believe in and live the vision. No matter how brilliant you are, you don’t have all the skills. Find them and appreciate their value.

Make sure you know who your team is. Think beyond colleagues; this might include suppliers, regulators, supporters and clients, probably also your spouse, best mate and sister too.

Know where you’re headed – your vision – so that everybody is able to kick toward the same goal post and push you toward it when you’re exhausted and have nothing left in the tank.

5. Stay agile to change. Keep a flexible business model if you can; if you over-invest in one aspect of your business that cannot change you run the same risk as the incumbents in the very industry you are disrupting.

Constantly ask yourself if there is a better way to do things. Can you be more efficient with the way you deliver to clients? How can you help clients be more efficient? Can you help clients to get a better outcome? Can you help them to be disruptive?

And remain committed to constantly reassessing what you are doing and how you are doing it…that takes time and effort.

Most importantly, be passionate about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Hold on for the ride – it might get bumpy from time to time but it is extremely rewarding.

About the Author:

Written by Jodie Baker, Founder and Principal Hive Legal. Hive Legal offers high quality corporate and commercial legal advice to its clients, but in a very different manner to traditional law firms. Hive Legal pioneers un-bundled and highly automated legal services with value pricing in Australia to offer corporate clients top-tier legal advice from experienced lawyers without being bound by large firm structure.

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