About a month ago, a friend of mine shared an idea with me. In a nutshell, he has a dream of creating the best sandwich on the planet and making it accessible to everyone through an app--one city at a time. Doing what I do, I had made a suggestion that could potentially transform his idea into an industry disruptor and explode his growth much faster.

Without giving away too much information, my suggestion would mean that he would have to take a large risk and break industry rules and regulations.

Of course his response was, "That won't work, the FDA would never allow it". To which I said, "That's exactly why it has potential."

Sometimes in order to create a truly disruptive company, you need to be willing to set aside conventional wisdom and break a few rules. Just ask Uber.

Being a disruptor means that you're either going to look like the smartest person in the room or fall flat on your face and look like a moron. There is no in-between, it goes one way or the other. Disruption isn't a lifestyle business, it's just a lifestyle.

Three years ago I launched a company called, Wahooly. My goal was to democratize private investing. Back then, and even still today, the SEC stated that you must be an 'accredited investor' to invest in private equity. What that meant was that you had to have a net worth of at least $2 million dollars (not including your home equity) and/or make more than $200k/year. In other words, only 1% of the US population were "worthy enough" (according to the SEC) to invest in startups.

Quite frankly, I thought that was bullsh*t.

The rules were in place to "protect unsophisticated investors" from making high-risk investments. We were allowed to throw down our mortgage payments on a Blackjack table, but not allowed to invest in a company we believed in.

So, I created Wahooly. A company that allowed 100% of the population to invest in startups. I had discovered that aside from money, what startups needed most was advocacy. So, rather than investing your money in startups in exchange for equity, Wahooly allowed you to invest your time and influence.

Wahooly broke all of the rules and as a result it became very popular--very quickly.

I wasn't brilliant or special, in fact I knew nothing about finance beforehand, I was just willing to take the risk.

Causing a disruption doesn't mean you're a criminal, it just means you're passionate enough to make a change, even if it means that you need to bend the rules.

There are a ton of examples of founders being disruptive, but you don't need to start a company from scratch to be bold. Marketing can be disruptive, just look at Dollar Shave Club. Or, how about naming, look at Poo-pourri or Big Ass Fans. Zappos proved that even customer service can be disruptive.

When companies choose to go against the grain, people take notice. The only difference between these companies and everyone else, is that they decided to be bold when others weren't willing.

Avoid convention wisdom, take a chance and break some rules. Be different and you're bound to disrupt.

Published on: Feb 3, 2015
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