No matter what industry you’re in, you will have to face the possibility that your business could be disrupted at some point.
Do you have a plan?
Unless you’re the company doing the disruption, you might want to take this time to assess your business’ standing. Are there younger competitors causing trouble for you? Are your sales reps struggling to close? These could be signs that your business is at risk for disruption.
Don’t panic. Here’s what I’d do if I was in your shoes.
Are you using the most efficient technology possible, or still relying on old processes? If you suspect that your business could be disrupted, it might be time to talk with your team and figure out if you’re doing things efficiently.
Disruption doesn’t happen overnight. At some point, some upstart entrepreneur saw an opening because an industry is filled with slow-moving businesses who have gotten complacent.
So be honest with yourself. Go through your metrics, talk with members of your team and truly figure out if you’re growing as a company or just surviving.
Embrace big data
As technology grows to suit business needs, so does the ability for analytics. There are reliable and incredible CRMs out there that can tell you everything you need to know about how your business is operating — if you know what to look for.
Instead of fearing analysis paralysis, take a deep dive into your analytics — both long term and short term. Look for downward trends or sudden drop-offs that might explain where your company is dropping the ball.
Identify the problem
If you fear disruption, you should be able to find the weak spot that has entrepreneurs circling like a shark with a sniff of blood.
It could be that customer service is lacking and your customers go to you because you’re the only option (for now). Maybe your costs are too high and people are looking for a more economical option.
Once you’ve identified the vulnerability that has disruptors swirling, you can fix it with an improved workflow or a new hire.
Study the enemy
If an upstart company has your number, there are two things you need to do. In addition to examining your own company’s weaknesses, find out what it is that makes your disruptor tick. What pain points are they solving that you’re not? What is their pitch to consumers?
It could be that they’re going after a different consumer base — or ready to swoop in on yours. By learning more about competing companies, you can incorporate best practices into your company. You can learn more about the reason for disruption and use that to turn a weakness into a strength.
Run through a pros and cons list for both your company and the disruptor, comparing where each brand excels and falls short. As a more established company, you could beat them to the punch and kill their chances of growth.
Just because you’ve been around for a while doesn’t mean you’ll be around forever. The great business leaders know when to stay the course and when to pivot to a solution the market needs.
The fear of trying something new can paralyze a business and leave it open to disruption. If you’ve found that you just need some little tweaks to shore up an area of your business, don’t be afraid to step up and make those changes. If your company is rolling toward a dead end, you might need to take drastic measures.
When Ray Ozzie took the reins of Microsoft from Bill Gates in 2005, he knew trouble was ahead. Competitors like Apple were only getting stronger, leading Ozzie to realize that major change was necessary. Instead of maintaining, Ozzie wanted to excel. He issued a 5,000-word memo on the future of Microsoft, identifying problems up ahead and setting the tone for the company’s evolution.
Congratulations. You’ve survived the first round of disruption. Others are coming. Instead of considering this a done deal, keep using these tactics to improve your company.
Constantly look for your business’ shortcomings and brainstorm ways to break through. Keep an eye on the competition and don’t get complacent.
Remember all the talk about how Uber disrupted the taxi industry? Now, with apps such as Lyft and Instacart surging in popularity, Uber itself is at risk of disruption. The cycle is ongoing.