5 Tips from the World’s Best Leaders on Disrupting Your Market
Updated: Feb 13
Would you like to thrive in the contemporary business world? Disrupting an industry as you know it can be a powerful tool to grow and establish your company as a leader in the industry.
There are many stories about successful people who had almost nothing to start with. Today, they own some of the leading companies in all industries. Brian Chesky, the founder of Airbnb, is one of them.
His start-up wasn’t very successful at first. He had no investors and only managed to create one short-term triumph when hosting over 600 Obama supporters before the elections. But Chesky didn’t want to give up and he found a way to fund his start-up. Selling election-themed cereals helped him and his partners earn just enough to tide over. Now they could invest in better equipment and travel to New York to meet the primary users of their platform.
After changing their focus to all types of accommodation, Chesky and his partners had the means to make their company come alive again. Today, there are Airbnb listings in almost 200 countries and they have hosted over 40 million people worldwide.
Airbnb introduced something very different to the market and did it successfully. By disrupting the hospitality industry, Chesky managed to lift a struggling start-up to a company worth around $25 billion.
Disruption may be your path to avoiding complacency in your business. Here's what the world's best leaders have to say about building a business that disrupts the market.
Jeff Bezos – Don’t Let the Naysayers Stop You
Jeff Bezos is the CEO and founder of Amazon, a multinational e-commerce company founded in 1994. He's one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the 21st century.
Over the years, Amazon has been consistent in reinventing itself and not everyone liked it. Some people have a self-interest in maintaining the old ways, while others may genuinely worry about the outcomes. Here’s what Bezos has to say about that:
“If you’re going to invent, you’re going to disrupt,”
Innovation can cause a lot of noise, including sharp criticisms and praises that you don't think you deserve. But if you’re going to invent something new and escape the cancer of complacency, you must push on. Don’t let others prevent you from introducing amazing ideas into your niche.
Steve Jobs - Customers Don’t Know What They Will Need
Your first thought may have been the opposite. Asking customers what they want and thinking of a solution to their problem seems like sound business advice. But that may not always be the case.
Guy Kawasaki, an author and venture capitalist, shares the words of wisdom he once learned from Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder. Although Jobs isn’t here anymore, Kawasaki continued to rely on his philosophy about disruption.
He explains why you shouldn’t ask customers what they want.
“Your current customer would only describe what they want in terms of what they already know.”
Apple didn’t ask their customers what they wanted. The iPod, iPhone, and iPad all introduced something brand new into the market that customers couldn’t even imagine. This shows is that to disrupt, you must think beyond the box that your customers naturally place themselves in.
Elon Musk – Don’t Disrupt for Disruption’s Sake
Elon Musk is one of the most highly regarded entrepreneurs today and he’s disrupted so many fields. And yet, he’s quick to point out that not all disruptive ideas are good ideas:
“Disruption only happens when people try to develop fundamentally better options,” he says.
According to Musk, disruption is excellent if there is a fundamental need to disrupt. It's good only if it can contribute to a better future for the world. In Musk’s case, it’s all about bringing more sustainable and affordable transportation options to consumers.
In yours, the need to disrupt may arise due to new technology in your niche. It may arise because your customers need something that isn’t available on the market yet. The key is that you establish the need before you try to invent or innovate. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with something that’s brand new that nobody wants.
Peter Thiel – Don’t Allow the Old Industries to Hold You Back
Peter Thiel is a billionaire entrepreneur best known as a co-founder of PayPal. With PayPal, he introduced a brand-new way to pay for goods that came just as the online shopping age took off.
Thiel believes in the act of creating new value. For him, disrupting your industry must come in service of making it better. But to do that, you must first relinquish the hold that the old way of doing things has on you.
“The act of creation is far more important than the old industries that might not like what you create.”
Complacency arises when you get too set in your old ways of doing business. When you’re happy with things as they are, you lose the opportunity for future growth. In fact, you open the door for disruptors, like PayPal, to completely change the industry that you operate in.
Thiel’s lesson here is that the old heads in your industry may try to hold you back. They may not want you to create something new because it means changes to their businesses, as well as your own.
That should not stop you from being the innovator that you need to be.
Richard Branson – Follow Your Passions
Best known for Virgin Group and its subsidiaries, Richard Branson is one of the most famous business magnates today. He believes that the primary goal of disruption is to improve something. Sometimes, you need to disrupt to get your idea accepted. But to be effective as a disruptor, you must have a great passion for what you do. Branson says:
“There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions – in a way that serves the world and you.”
If you lack the passion to chase your new idea, you will find that your motivation wanes. The naysayers will pull you down and you might abandon a great idea before it comes to fruition.
But when you’re passionate, you will keep working on the new idea. You won’t allow others to influence you and you will find a way to make it work.
Disruption Prevents Complacency
The world’s leading businessmen agree on one thing - disruption is good and often necessary.
You should embrace disruption and be at peace with it even though not everyone will like it. That will help you regain focus and become more determined in your work.
Knowing you’re creating a fundamentally better option for consumers will keep you going even when you don’t ask them what they want.
By disrupting the market, you will anticipate their needs and get prepared for future challenges.
This can lead to you establishing a sizable market share, and if it doesn't it's also okay to move on. Sometimes ideas that you thought would alter the market may not work, so you move on to the next promising idea.
As you go about it, the crucial thing is to challenge yourself even when you're doing great.
Aiming for more and to do better will continuously keep you on your toes, thinking about the future needs of your customers.
Ultimately, it will prevent complacency, the silent killer of businesses. And if you want to learn more about avoiding the cancer of complacency, book me for your next speaking engagement today.