It was 1995 when the Harvard Business Review coined the term “disruptive innovation”. Since then, industry disruption has become a buzzword for businesses looking to make an impact.
Although industry disruption can happen at any point, the best time is when there’s blood in the streets. With more than 200,000 extra businesses closing during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, many industries are ripe for disruption.
But what can your business do to become a disruptor in the post-pandemic world
1. Search for Blue Ocean
The Blue Ocean Strategy was a term coined by Professors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne in 2005. As opposed to the Red Ocean Strategy, whereby companies attempt to disrupt highly competitive industry niches, Blue Ocean companies focus on seeking out new, untapped waters to innovate in.
There are countless examples of this. One of the latest is Virgin Galactic’s innovation within the growing space tourism industry. According to MarketWatch, Virgin Galactic is the market leader in a future billion-dollar industry. Their innovations are poised to make this dream industry a reality, and there’s almost no competition.
Think about where your blue ocean is.
2. Apply Brand Overlays
A brand overlay involves taking market leaders from other industries and applying their characteristics to yours. For example, think about how you can apply McDonald’s’ brand selling points to a therapist’s office. They offer the following:
- Fast service
- Affordable prices
- Efficient staff
- Wide access
Apply these characteristics to your business and bring therapy into the modern world. Provide wide access through digital therapy services, offer more convenient hours, and unveil new services at various price points.
It’s just an example of how you can bring the main selling points of another industry into your world.
3. Break Down Barriers to Access
Certain industries are notoriously averse to change. One of the big success stories of the pandemic has come from the world of investing. This was an industry that previously required you to partner with a brokerage firm, pay for a fund manager, and pay high commissions on every trade.
The rise of platforms like Robinhood and M1 Finance democratized access to investing. These young challengers rose and enabled low-budget, ordinary people to invest remotely.
Another area of the investing world that changed was the widening of access to investment data. Previously, only those who worked on Wall Street could access this information via the eponymous Bloomberg Terminal, which costs an average of $24,000/year.
Atom Finance was one of the first platforms to provide access to this previously unavailable investment data. Key to their success:
- Centralization of data
- Making it quicker to access than Yahoo Finance and MarketWatch
- Providing it for free
This review on Atom Finance makes it quite clear that this is a gamechanger for the average retail investor.
Consider how your business can lower barriers to access. How can you undercut your competitors? It shows that you can disrupt an industry by offering exactly the same product in an entirely different way.
4. Partner with Creative Thinkers
All business owners suffer from “not being able to see the forest for the trees”.
There’s nothing you can do about this. You’re too close to your business and its inner workings. Looking at your brand objectively is impossible because you’re too involved in its day-to-day workings.
Partnering with intelligent, creative thinkers can offer a fresh new look at your business and the market it operates in. Great ideas come from anywhere, but sometimes you have to leave the sandbox to find them.
5. Use Technology to Advance Your Disruption
Technology is responsible for practically every advancement made in recent years. Consider the top industry disruptors of recent years.
Without fast, reliable Internet connections, Netflix cannot operate. Without advanced smartphone technology, Uber doesn’t exist. Without both of these things, challenger banks like Starling and Monzo don’t have a business model.
Technology has transformed our lives, but in the business world, it hasn’t been applied evenly. Think about your industry and whether it’s maximizing the use of technology.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to digitize. These imposed changes have paid dividends for business leaders, with productivity within the U.S. economy expected to increase by 5%.
Businesses that take full advantage of these tech-driven changes can expect to make greater savings by getting rid of office space and all the costs associated with the office environment.
What’s more 43% of U.S. employees want to keep working from home even after the pandemic has passed.
None of these changes could happen without the technology to support them. It demonstrates how businesses can apply existing technology to transform an industry.
The Bottom Line
When people think of industry disruption they think about new inventions. Although disruption does happen this way, most disruption happens simply by changing the way an industry works. Getting inspiration from unrelated brands and searching for holes within your sandbox are all ways in which you can change your industry.
The post-pandemic world is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become a changemaker. Don’t let it slip away.
Bob Haegele is a personal finance writer, entrepreneur, and dog walker. Bob has been writing about personal finance for three years and now manages several personal finance sites, including The Frugal Fellow, Modest Money, and Blooming Wealth. You can also find him contributing to popular websites such as Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money, and GOBankingRates. You can see more of his work on Muck Rack and Contently, or connect with him on LinkedIn.
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