What small business can learn from disruption?

- November 4, 2019 2 MIN READ

I get it when I hear the word ‘disruption’ my brain also sends my eyes a signal to ‘start roll’ but the reality is disruption is very real and if you can find a way to do it in any sector you to could be a unicorn’

Everyone thinks they are a ‘disruptor’, that they are embracing innovation and forcing disruption, but what does it really mean? 

Clayton Christensen’s 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma was the first real insight to ‘business disruption’ in a positive light, rather than that of the traditional negative connotation that the world usually was aligned with. 

“When mainstream customers start adopting the entrants’ offerings in volume,” he explains, “disruption has occurred.

So, putting that into the context of small business, this provides a wealth of opportunity, insights and untapped potential. All of which, before technology and business methodology simply wouldn’t allow for small business to make such a profound impact on the industry or world for that matter. 

Look at innovative companies such as Vitamin Water, Xero Accounting and Amazon, all started from nothing, disrupted and now have created their own space. 

How disruption supports small businesses

Although disruption is a term that is being used so much lately it feels like it may have just become another business buzz word it is important to understand how innovations such as information technology and artificial intelligence can increase business opportunities and growth. Through embracing the available tools, systems and intelligence now available to now only large corporates, but small business, it can have a profound effect on customer service, insights, innovation and product development within a small business. 

From an operational sense, AI and automation can assist small business to become more effective and efficient according to Intuit’s Alex Chriss in large part through:

Automation of back office tasks

Making smarter business decisions

Delivery of personalised customer experiences

Customer insights for NPD

Employing virtual assistants 

These five key areas add value to the customer supply chain, streamline processes and relieve customer pain points that set small business up for disrupting much larger and more resourced industry players in the space. 

Tips for small businesses

Top tips for small business in an age of disruption are not only the previous section but also embrace your own disruption

Don’t simply put up an ‘out of business sign’ and move on. Iterate your business model, adapt, evolve, innovate or your business will die. 

Focus. It is very easy for small businesses to be swept up in working ‘in their business’ not ‘on their business’. As a small business owner or manager, it is imperative that you look at what data and technology are available to you, what your customers want and who can help you provide it. 

Partnerships, JV’s and co-branding are all ways to create disruption to your market, keep costs down and become more efficient. Do what your competition would expect you to do. 

As a small business, it is not about how you get knocked down; it is how you dust yourself off, iterate and start again. 

Through disruption many small businesses have been catapulted to stardom, wealth and riches. But for every one story like this, it has crushed the hopes, dreams and ambitions of a thousand others. So which side of the story does your business want to be on?