Do you think your small business can withstand an industry disruption? These days, technology seems to be replacing and automating more and more jobs. Is your industry susceptible to a major disruption? Will you survive an industry disruption?
What is an industry disruption?
First off, just what do we mean by industry disruption? I may not provide a perfect definition, but I feel an industry disruption is a technology, product, or service that affects an entire industry and creates a new market.
As an example, I believe that inbound marketing was an industry disruption. In the past, businesses relied on newspaper ads, direct mail, and cold calling as examples of ways to market their business. Then, along came inbound marketing, a way to attract ideal customers to your business using web content, email marketing, downloadable material, etc. Many of the early adopters of inbound marketing are reaping the benefits, while everyone else is scrambling to figure it out and get caught up.
So how can you avoid being destroyed by an industry disruption?
Keep up with industry trends
It is really important to keep up with what is going on in your industry. Read your industry news and follow the blogs of respected industry leaders. In addition, keep up with general business trends so that you can ensure that you will remain a major competitor. Going back to our inbound marketing example, if you were a marketing service, you surely learned about inbound marketing by reading the blogs of industry leaders. However, if you were an accounting service, you may not have; so you need to keep up with industry trends as well as general business trends.
Don't be naive
Let me give you an example of being naive. For years, we have preached that when you compare QuickBooks desktop vs QuickBooks online, that QuickBooks desktop is the superior product. In all honesty, we still feel that way. However, we neglected QuickBooks online for so long that we lost touch, and the product got better. We realized this in plenty of time and certainly recommend QuickBooks online to clients when it is the right fit.
We believe that QuickBooks online will be an industry disruption to the accounting industry. But why do we feel this way? I believe that in the next few years, Intuit will make the bold decision to sunset its QuickBooks desktop software. The writing is already on the wall. From a revenue standpoint, it makes complete sense to move from a one-time purchase model to a monthly subscription model. Intuit has already restricted 3rd party app development for the desktop program and is putting all of its efforts into QuickBooks online.
Don't be naive when it comes to industry disruptions. Hypothesize about trends. Try and spot them early to get ahead of the disruption so you can come out an industry leader.
Become an industry leader
Everyone wants to become an industry leader or already claims that they are one. But who is truly an industry leader? It's not like any official organization is giving out a plaque inducting you into the industry leader club.
First, you need to remain super involved in your industry and the trends going on. You need to voice your opinion about certain subjects and be willing to go against the grain. Don't be afraid to take a stand and go out on a limb.
Second, you need to find an outlet to voice your opinions. Your outlet could be a blog, a speaking engagement, or just through general networking. No matter what your outlet, you need to make sure you are forming an opinion about certain industry trends.
Last, you need to be an early adopter of technologies; specifically those in your industry. It does not mean that you need to use or believe in every technology, but when you see one that may be useful, it is important to try it. Thought leaders and industry leaders are early adopters, but they are also quick to discard a technology when they know it won't work for them.
What possible industry disruptions do you see coming?
Will your business survive? Will it thrive?