Almost all business leaders want to take their company to the next level — whether that means innovating product or service development, growing their consumer base, or becoming a household name. But what about really making waves? If you're looking to shake the very foundation of your space and take control, you're looking to disrupt your industry.
You may have heard this catchphrase before, but what does it really mean to disrupt an industry? It's about more than just developing innovative products or services — it's forcing deep changes to the way the industry operates. And because of the disruption, other companies are required to change to the new way of doing things in order to stay relevant.
Think of Uber. They completely upended their industry by offering something cheaper, more convenient, and easier than a traditional taxi service. They took a simple idea and changed the status quo by leveraging technology and people's reliance on smartphones. Similarly, Apple took the world by storm with the iPod and iTunes — providing an easy way to acquire and listen to music.
So how can you disrupt your industry and make your company the go-to for your products or services? There are a number of ways to get started — but bear in mind that it takes real dedication to truly do the work to disrupt your space.
1. Analyze Your Audience
You may think you know your audience, but I'd bet dollars to donuts that you could always learn more about them. Try to view your industry through their eyes: What are they really looking to get from your industry? Why do they use your products or services over your competitors? If you're not sure, you might consider asking them to take a survey to give you true insight. Once you know what really makes them tick, you can start to brainstorm things that would vastly improve their experience with your company.
2. Size Up Your Competitors
What is your competition up to? It's time to find out. Do they have offerings you don't? Make things simpler? Offer lower prices? Whatever leg up they may have on you, use it as fuel to come up with a way to completely disrupt their way of doing things. Chances are, they're also working to get the jump on the industry, so beat them to it!
3. Identify Pain Points
In any industry, there will always be things that drive people crazy — things that, if fixed, could disrupt everything. For example, how much do you hate having to get something notarized? Schlepping down to a bank and having to see an actual person can be such a pain, especially these days. Well, Notarize has arrived on the scene, offering a virtual notary service — something no one else has been able to do before. It's this kind of out-of-the-box thinking that can revolutionize an industry.
4. Sniff Out the Dinosaurs
In many instances, the things that have been the same in an industry for years are the low hanging fruit to change. We can't all be Amazon, but they naturally serve as a shining example of a disruptor. They rocked the retail world with a larger variety of products, better pricing, fast shipping, easy searching, and great customer experience. Shopping had forever involved being in a physical store or dealing with low inventory and slow shipping on retailers' sites. But no more, thanks to Amazon. So if you're able to find — and change — something that's been a constant in your industry since the stone ages, you could really be on to something.
5. Reduce Complexity
Complicated, laborious processes are a major pain point for many people. We can hardly be bothered to check our voicemail or watch a video longer than 10 seconds, so forget doing something even more time-consuming and annoying. People won't think twice about walking away from a company that complicates their lives, even slightly. If you can identify a complex procedure or process that people have to go through to use your product or service, see what you can do to reduce the headache. If you offer the easiest way to do something, chances are, people will flock to you.
Remember that disrupting an industry won't happen overnight. It will take a lot of hard work, innovative thinking, and determination to truly make a change that will upend an industry or help you corner a particular market. So buckle down, start researching and analyzing, and get ready to blow your competitors out of the water and leave your industry forever changed.