Every year, there are countless books published on how to become a better entrepreneur, and every year, one of those books reigns supreme over all of the others. I read more than 100 books a year.
In 2015, Disrupt You! by Jay Samit was that book.
The book not only offers an important toolkit of entrepreneurial best practices, it also conveys the importance of a mindset shift that can transform individuals and businesses alike. In a world where change is the only constant, Samit recognizes and underscores the need for professional and personal disruption in order to continually transform and reinvent yourself and your business.
It's a great read for entrepreneurs--and everyone from Inc.com to leaders in Silicon Valley is taking notice. Samit's narrative about his experiences with disruption has led to a number of trends in the tech world, though it wasn't always so welcoming of his ideas.
Embracing Transformative Circumstances
Samit's work at EMI Music, Sony, and Universal Music Group provides great examples of how disruption works in practice.
Other media company executives weren't as open to the immense changes happening in their industry at that time. They fought in vain to retain the status quo. Samit, on the other hand, sought out and embraced deals with digital music entrepreneurs who were paving the way with emerging business models that would not only disrupt the music industry's traditional systems but would also grow the market in innovative ways.
At Sony, Samit attempted to unify the different divisions of the company, which had a strong vertical chain of opportunities--from games to movies to music to technology. The potential for the integration of those divisions was a huge advantage in the marketplace. When various departments opted not to cooperate, they missed out on the chance to create leverage that would likely have reinforced and grown the company's market leadership and profits to this day.
As Samit points out, today's public company CEO would rather overpay for a startup through acquisition at multiples that are hard to justify than have to explain to shareholders the years of losses it would take to enter the same market through innovation. But the potential payoffs of disruption are real for any business. The question is whether entrepreneurs understand what successful innovation actually entails for their businesses and for themselves as individuals.
Here are a few key strategies Samit shares that every entrepreneur should take to heart:
1. Understand the whole of disruption. The real challenge and opportunity for all entrepreneurs is to determine where they can make the most impact, and then to create a game plan of action steps that will allow them to bring their visions to life. For example, knowing that disruption causes vast sums of money to flow from existing businesses to new entrants can help unlock new value chains in any niche ecosystem.
2. Pivot to open a gateway to ongoing innovation. The correct business model and a strategic game plan are as important to the success of your business as building the right technology platform and solutions. But real disrupters hone their foresight so that they are able to respond nimbly to market shifts. Think about how your business might respond to such changes. Do you possess the conviction and willingness to make the most of new opportunities, and are you nimble and agile enough to move quickly?
3. Brainstorm a "zombie" idea. A "zombie" idea is one that can't be killed. Instead of cultivating an idea, try to destroy it. Actively search for your idea's faults and confront them. Anticipating every possible way an idea can fail saves you time and capital and makes your plan all the more marketable when the time comes to execute it.
In business, as in life, change is inevitable. Learning to continually adapt and disrupt can be the deciding factor between whether your company--and you, as an individual--sink or swim.