What are the Characteristics of Disruptive Businesses?

When you were in elementary school, did your teachers ever tell you to pay attention and stop being disruptive? The premise behind these instructions is  you can’t be aware of the current landscape if you are too busy doing your own thing. As we move into 2017, it may be time to re-examine your business approach and decide if you have what it takes to be a disruptive business in your industry.

According to Forbes, there are benefits to going above and beyond innovation to disruption. Innovation and disruption are similar in that they are both makers and builders. Disruption takes a left turn by literally uprooting and changing how we think, behave, do business, learn and go about our day-to-day. Harvard Business School professor and disruption guru Clayton Christensen says,  “A disruption displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new and more efficient and worthwhile.”

There are four rules to being a disruptive business in your industry:

Rule 1: Being a disruptive requires setting the pace as other companies try to catch up.
By not following trends, you could end up creating a revolutionary business model, idea or industry. This could be as simple as changing the way your business orders inventory to something larger, such as how people move from one point to another. For example, Uber was a disruptive business idea that transformed the way we travel in unfamiliar cities (or our backyard).

Rule 2: Being a disruptive brand requires leadership to be able to identify new opportunities that established competitors fail to see.
The best way to grow a business is through your existing customer base. However, as you cultivate disruptive ideas, you may need to consider working with a new subset of individuals. There is no substitute for understanding the unmet needs of customers. This can help you to discover whether you can supply their needs (at the price customers want to pay) and if you can still make a profit from your efforts.

Rule 3: Being a disruptive team requires making significant behavior changes for the long run.
It is the disruptive ideas that change people’s habits, and that can be powerful. Steve Jobs created the habit of us carrying all of our favorite songs in a device that could fit in our pocket. Comcast and TiVo made it an acceptable habit of skipping past commercials with their digital recording devices. And Coca-Cola and Pepsi have made it a common habit of paying for water.

Rule 4: Being disruptive means taking risks without losing your identity.
To be a disruptor in today’s evolving world, you need not be afraid to take a chance. Some of the best innovators and disruptors in the world have had that passion, tenacity, and vision and have never deviated away from the core of their business.

Before beginning your initiative of becoming a disruptive business, do a rigorous analysis of understanding what entities are already present in your industry, what constraints exist and how you could differentiate yourself in a meaningful way. When you approach disruption in this manner, you can expect to have favorable sales and growth for your company.