Business Productivity

Dare to be different

- August 31, 2012 2 MIN READ

Should I do what conventional business wisdom suggests, or something radical to “break the mould” and possibly achieve extraordinary results?

This is a dilemma many entrepreneurs face – should I forge my own path and dare to be different or do the “tried and true” with minimal risk?

My advice would be: use one to leverage the other.

A long time ago I realised the benefits of learning from other people’s business experiences – firstly, it saves time; and secondly, it’s a lot less expensive.

For years I have been studying business – books, case studies, media reports, articles and blogs – anything I can get my hands on that might reveal some of the “business DNA” that can teach me the lessons that really count.

But to do something truly special in business, we need to take that knowledge and push it one step further by thinking differently.

Sir Isaac Newton summed up this approach pretty well when he said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

If you want to be better than average, then you have to dare to be different. You may have to buy when everyone is selling, or sell when everyone is buying. You may have to zig when everyone else zags. Or possibly even zog, zeg or zug.

Want more articles like this? Check out the innovation section.

Seth Godin talks extensively about the benefits of being different in his book Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, detailing how to avoid extinction by adding distinction. Renaissance author Francis Bacon once said, “If we are to achieve results never before accomplished, we must expect to employ methods never before attempted.” And according to Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Over several decades of observation I have noticed that the most interesting people I meet are invariably not the ones who do what everyone else does, but rather the ones that challenge the status quo and banish the bland.

In this era of modern marketing anyone can simply go online and tell their story or sell their product. But the key is not about simply getting your service or product in front of people; the real secret to being remarkable is to create something so good that it builds its own audience or tribe of users – something that people go on to tell their own stories about. And one of the first steps in achieving this is to push the boundaries – to take a risk and to aim beyond average.

The tried-and-tested approach is what gives us our business DNA – essential foundations that can’t be ignored. However, what really distinguishes a business is how we imaginatively build on that DNA to create something truly unique and compelling.

Have you dared to be different in your business, and has it worked to your advantage? Please share your story.