We all know our traditional competitors, but there is a rise in non-traditional competitors that can pose a risk to your business. Do you know the real threats to your business?

Obviously, a business owner or senior manager cannot change what the competition is doing, but they can minimise their risk by figuring out what the consequences will be and knowing how resilient they are when it comes to adjusting their sails in order to mitigate damage.

Multinationals can’t manoeuvre quickly. Your business may not have the capacity to handle every change that’s coming your way by keeping to business as usual, but you can duck and move. When those monoliths are stuck in meetings for months talking about a change that will certainly disrupt your industry, you can build up your resilience, figure out what your best move is and quickly and nimbly react.

I’ve worked with too many people who see business as a game to win or lose. It’s not like that. It’s about resilience, being innovative and being in the best position to adapt. While you can’t control what the Amazons of the world are doing, you can be better prepared for it, and react accordingly if you’ve got a strategy in place to identify potential disruptors.

Then of course, there’s Kodak. People joke about Kodak missing the digital camera revolution and eventually going belly-up, but many people don’t realise that Kodak actually invented the technology to create the digital camera. They didn’t get left behind. They invented the disruptor and licensed it to the very competitors who put them out of business!

Figuring Out Your Place in The Changing World

A strategy for identifying disruptors needs to be part of any company’s overall strategic plan. It’s not that complicated, but it’s a continual activity of keeping your mind and vision open, and that’s what a lot of organisations haven’t done.

There was once a time when you had a project and every facet, big or small, that needed to be part of the project would be brought in piecemeal: from the designer to the engineering consultants to the construction companies. Now, you won’t find a tier 1 or tier 2 construction company in Australia that doesn’t have their own engineering design or service supply chain.

So where does that leave you if you have an engineering company that doesn’t do project or operation maintenance? Many of the big engineering companies are now doing corporate advisory work. What happens if you missed the boat on that?

The engineering company that doesn’t understand what’s going on in the industry is on a path to self-destruction. If you’re not keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry, you’re not actually understanding it. You may think that you’re just witnessing a short-term slowdown in your business. The world has moved on, and you haven’t.

Some time ago, the other engineering firms realised: “We have a pretty wide customer base. How can we leverage that and move into an area that we haven’t been in previously?”

Those that didn’t are going to be left behind.

Devising Your Strategy for Disruptors

That leaves the million-dollar question: What are you supposed to do about all of this? You’re good at what you do, but how do you prepare yourself for whatever comes next?

To that end, you need to ask yourself these kinds of questions:

  • Do we have the right people in the organisation?
  • Do we have the smart people that can actually take command of these things?
  • Who is going to be responsible for identifying the disruptors?
  • Is there enough corporate strategy currently to make sure we’re influencing these things?
  • Am I the right person to stay on top of things?
  • Even if we identify the disruptors, what next?

There’s a dangerous natural tendency to hope that things just work themselves out and you can continue doing business as usual while staying within your industry’s norms. Well, if you’re just keeping up, you’re already falling behind. There’s a well-worn axiom that says “There’s only one way to coast, and that’s downhill.”

You absolutely have to talk about and develop a strategy around disruptors. The company that thrives is the one that is proactive about disruptors on the horizon, not reactive.

Unleash Your Business Growth

I have just published a book entitled Growing Up – Unleash Your Business Growth aimed at business owners who have a passion and vision for Business Growth. If you manage a medium-sized business, are battling with growth roadblocks and have a passion to change, I will be happy to send you a copy of my book free of charge. (Yes, it is a real book, not an eBook). Just follow the link at www.unleashyourbusinessgrowth.com

David Nixon is Director, Advisor, Author and Entrepreneur and is recognised as Australia’s Authority on Unleashing Growth Barriers for SMEs.