5 tips to disrupt any business from inside out

By Raluca Gomeaja

A common characteristic of businesses that are growing and are successful is that they start becoming very confident, looking much more on how to increase their profits than on how they can become sustainable on a long run.

When we do not longer pay attention to the market and the way we do business someone else will do. The new comer will assess a business from the perspective of its clients’ needs and claims and they will bring up a new model that is fully responding to those needs. Even more, they will be “eyes-open” for existing clients to highlight a pain-point not necessarily “visible” to them.

Instead of that any company could benefit from understanding what it is that the clients are truly looking for, not because the clients have no other choice on the market but because they get exactly what they want to begin with. As well as educating the clients with what new benefits they can get with an innovative service or product that company can/will launch.

In theory, it shall be easier for an existing company to 1. keep its clients when listening/responding to their needs and 2. drive the market higher, than for a new company to disrupt the market and take competitors’ clients. When a disruptor takes over though, it is a clear indication that the clients were not choosing the existing company due to their tremendous satisfaction level but out of habit or no other available choices.

An inside disruptive approach shall start by understanding market trends, and mostly customer complains. Both are important as we can disrupt the market by providing new services/products either by first educating about new services/product thus giving clients more reason to keep choosing the existing company they work with.

That is even more true in today’s economy as it was never easier to add new online services, market almost for free on social media and get access to so much information.

Yet change is difficult; “why changing when we have always done this way and it is working?”; sometimes it is easier to keep pretending we are the best and the clients will follow. Multiple examples like Nokia or Kodak on one side or Uber and Airbnb on the other side show how much traditional successful companies can lose and how much new companies can disrupt and take over a market. At the opposite are companies like Apple or Amazon who although young and successful keep innovating every day to keep their clients happy.

Being fully focused on the day-to-day business operational, although perfectly normal, may lead sometimes to lose sight of the bigger picture and trends. It is always cheaper to invest with a consultant, have a larger view to better answer clients complains/wishes than to react when a disruptor is already in the market.

Here are 5 tips to practice a disruptive approach in any company:

  1. As much as possible create a culture of out of the box thinking inside the company. This means to encourage and reward team members who are finding solutions instead of just highlighting problems.
  2. Understand and analyze customer complains. This is rather cheap and easy to do, and it requires a systematic approach. Run a customer satisfaction survey at least once a year. Leave space for comments. In addition, follow monthly the number of lost clients, and take time to assess the reasons for them to stop working the company.
  3. Test new services and products. Take it 1 at the time so it is easier to understand what is working and why. Also learn from failures.
  4. Work with a consultant. A new look on any business will always be beneficial, especially if it is difficult for a company to see things that may be however obvious for an outsider. One efficient way to work with a consultant is result based.
  5. Learn from companies that are not direct competitors. What can you learn from Uber, Amazon etc. and how can you apply it to your business?

At the end of the day, any company is totally responsible for its results and growth. They can blame the market and the competitors, they can be reactive or proactive.

The way a company chooses to lead the change or to react to market changes is the main indicator of how long that company will be in the market for.