Turning Difficult Disruptions into New Opportunities
The concepts of “business disruption” and “disruptive innovation” are certainly not new. Since they came into vogue in the mid-1990s, these terms have been widely discussed, analyzed and applied to dozens of companies and industries—from the effects of the cheap, mass-produced Model-T Ford on twentieth-century transportation to the impact of tech disruptors like Amazon, Airbnb, Uber and others on well-established companies and industries.
Of course, as much as these big business disruptions have impacted different industries and changed how we live, none of them can hold a candle (or high-efficiency LED light bulb) to what we’re all experiencing right now.
The world is still in the beginning stages of a new kind of disruption that is having a massive, unprecedented impact on every business, industry and economy simultaneously. It has already fundamentally altered how we work, play, travel, shop and socialize. And as much as we’d like to believe this is all temporary, whatever new normal we end up with will look substantially different than the old.
In other words, the past few months have forced all of us to re-examine our relationship to disruption—in business and everywhere else. Virtually every organization is grappling with how to think about the current global disruption, apply the right mindset and approach, and emerge stronger and healthier on the other side. Although major business disruptions can be difficult and destabilizing, they can also lead to groundbreaking opportunities for young, agile and entrepreneurial businesses that are prepared to take advantage of them.
Well-known entrepreneur Mark Cuban calls this idea “Infrastructure 2.0.” In a recent interview on Fox News, he said, “Somebody has a vision out there of what we are going to look like on the other side. And when we look back in five years, we are going to realize that there are… amazing companies that were started that just changed the world and led us through all of this to a brighter future.”
So what will it take to be part of that brighter future? What kinds of amazing companies will lead the way? And will direct selling businesses have new opportunities to step up as the next “disruptive innovators?” Right now, no one has definitive answers to these questions. But looking at how businesses have prepared for and adapted to past disruptions—and what smart businesses are doing today—can provide some valuable insights.
Build Agility into Your DNA
It’s a familiar story. An unexpected disruptive innovation starts to transform a market or industry. Established companies try to respond, but their structures and processes are simply too rigid and entrenched. By the time they manage to “turn their battleship,” it’s already too late. The market has passed them by, and they’re either extinct or sitting on the sidelines.
To avoid becoming a victim of this common pattern, you have to focus on agility every day. And that’s not easy. True agility requires asking uncomfortable questions, interrupting successful processes and workflows to try untested theories, and expending extra effort and expense. It’s a culture and mindset that most successful and established companies lose as they mature. But those that actively work to stay nimble are in a much better position to survive, reinvent themselves and thrive through all kinds of disruptions.
Turn Direct Selling into Disruptive Innovation
Make no mistake, the current situation—and the toll it is taking on millions of people—is unequivocally tragic. But as habits and behaviors shift, direct selling companies are in a unique position to provide people with products that improve their health and enhance their lives in ways that don’t involve crowded retail stores. The direct selling model also offers people safe, flexible, at-home options for building new careers and supporting their families. As society continues to change and adapt in ways we can’t predict, make sure you are actively searching for disruptive innovations, even small ones, that meet the changing needs of your field reps and customers in ways no one else has thought of. Because that’s how smart businesses turn challenging disruptions into new opportunities and success.
Pick Your Lane—And then Own It
The past few months have obviously upended successful businesses around the world. But even in markets where sales have increased—like meal delivery services, online apparel, health, and cosmetics businesses—the most agile and innovative players are finding new ways to break away from the competition.
Lululemon sales have grown more than 200 percent since March 15th, compared to mostly flat sales from MeUndies, Stitch Fix and others. (See Figure 1.) Even more surprising, Target’s e-commerce sales have exploded by nearly 400 percent in the same time period, significantly outpacing both Amazon and Walmart. (See Figure 2 below.) How are these companies outperforming their larger, more established competitors? Despite the challenges every business is facing right now, they have found ways to tighten their focus, respond more quickly to changing markets, and anticipate what their customers need most from them during a difficult time.
Figure 1: According to The New York Times, Lululemon sales have grown more than 200 percent since March 15th, compared to mostly flat sales from other online retailers.
If you embrace this same mindset—and put the tools in place to make your business more agile and responsive than your competitors—you can create similar opportunities that shake up your market and help you break away from the pack.
Start Preparing Now
Disruption is always difficult, especially at today’s unprecedented scale. But through it all, the best and most innovative businesses are already planting seeds for the brighter future Mark Cuban described.
For example, an US-based ecommerce company DirectScale wants sure you have the technology tools and support you need to stay agile and turn disruption into innovation and opportunities, so all of us can be part of that future together.
Figure 2: Target’s e-commerce sales have recently exploded by nearly 400 percent, significantly outpacing both Amazon and Walmart.