In today’s business world, where new technology is infiltrating every field from finance to fast food, it seems as though every company under the sun is labeling itself as “innovative” when trying to attract new team members and new clients. So what descriptions, when applied accurately, can really set your business apart from the pack?

Below, six entrepreneurs share the words they find most compelling in describing a company that’s truly shaking up its industry -- and proving its staying power.


“In terms of investing, the contrarian assumption is that markets are efficient and crowded.  Therefore, bargains can be had on equities that the rest of the market has snubbed,” notes Ryan Bradley, partner at personal injury law firm Koester & Bradley, LLP. What works for investors may work equally well for business owners. Instead of following the latest trends, consider how to set your business apart from the rest.

“Contrarian companies do not simply follow the crowd or the quick buck but rather look for ways to make money where barriers to entry are lower and there is less noise,” says Bradley.


For long-term success, it’s essential that a business can build trust with customers, and the easiest way to do that is to show who you are and what you care about. That’s why Karl Kangur, founder and CEO of content marketing solution MRR Media, puts authenticity first.

“In today’s hypercompetitive environment, building a brand that consumers can trust is more important than ever,” says Kangur. “One important factor that distinguishes a successful brand is authenticity. Consumers value businesses with clear brand values that they maintain consistently in both their actions and their messaging.”


The first taste of success is great, but can your company survive a period of rapid growth? “One of the biggest issues with growing a company and achieving success is scalability. If a business is not scalable, it is bound to die,” says Duran Inci, co-founder and COO of digital marketing and technology company Optimum7.

He adds, “Being innovative is great on the creative side; however, without the right execution and checks in place, a business will never scale or grow.”


“The single and most powerful element that any successful company can have is adaptability,” says Michael Hsu, founder and CEO of autonomous accounting firm DeepSky. While being innovative tells customers you can do something new once, being adaptive tells them you can continue to keep up with the market’s demands.

“Technology and marketplaces change so fast and so often that companies that are able to move, change and adapt fast win the game,” says Hsu. “Therefore, being able to adapt is essential for success. This is true for marketing, supply chain, technology, operations, execution, finance and any other area of a business that you can think of. Large companies often die or lose out on opportunities because they move too slow.”


Have you ever ordered your favorite pizza at a chain’s new location only to find it doesn’t taste quite how you remembered? That kind of disappointment can quickly kill your enthusiasm for the brand. Kim Kaupe, co-founder of superfan-focused entertainment agency ZinePak, says, “The most successful companies are consistent; there's a reason why a McDonald’s burger in Atlanta tastes the same as one in London or Hong Kong.”

“Consistent, amazing output -- whether you are an app, tech platform or product-based business -- is the core reason consumers keep coming back to your brand,” says Kaupe. “As you become more successful, it's because your consistency continues to hold true, allowing more people to rely on your great output.”


In today’s world of fast-moving change, being able to innovate is great -- but disrupting a whole industry tells the world a company is truly worth watching.

Suneera Madhani, co-founder and CEO of financial services company Fattmerchant, says, “I think the mark of a truly successful company is its ability to disrupt an industry. To me, innovation and making improvements are fine, but getting to the root of an issue and providing a completely novel solution sets the good apart from the great.”