Author: Chandra Dake, Executive Chairman & Group CEO of Dake Group
Have you noticed how the dynamism of startup ecosystems around the world has redefined the word ‘entrepreneur’? The term now has connotations of doing something new and innovative, doesn’t it? There’s good reason for this.
Our greatest current challenges are a result of the way we did things in the past. As a result, driving disruptive innovation has become both profitable, and a way to thrive even when the market is in a downturn. Let’s take a closer look at how we can successfully leverage disruptive opportunities, as entrepreneurs.
A great idea is not enough
So how does a disruptive business model compete with incumbents with an established customer base? Typically, disruptive entrepreneurship gains a foothold by either addressing an unmet need, or by offering unique value. But quality is the essential ingredient, in being able to do this successfully.
For instance, Airbnb ticked the boxes for targeting an unmet need, as well as offering value. But it wouldn't have become a global giant, if it had remained the offer of cheap overnight accommodation on an air mattress, in the living room of founders Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky. To displace existing hospitality businesses, Airbnb had to meet and exceed the quality of their services.
So how can you best set up your disruptive idea for success?
I have learned many lessons in my career as an entrepreneur – often the hard way. But, some of my most recent insights have come from simply being the parent of an intelligent and free-thinking teenager! Not everything new is better, but almost all fresh ideas have the seed of something game-changing. For your fresh take on a disruptive opportunity to set off on its journey to becoming the new standard, you need to:
- Resist the temptation to reinvent the wheel. Focus on the aspects of your innovation that unlock new value, but also leverage the existing ecosystem as much as you can.
- Incubate your idea as long as you need to. Give the initial inspiration some time to mature, and fine-tune your value proposition constantly.
- Put your assumptions to the test in the real world, before you are ready for your big launch.
Why embracing disruptive opportunities can help you thrive in a sluggish market
To be truly disruptive, a new business model needs to do more than reduce cost for buyers. It needs to redefine the benchmark in customer experience, in order to unlock new revenue streams. So, an entrepreneur driving a disruptive opportunity is essentially going beyond the existing market – in product, customer base, and value proposition. And the best way to survive a downturn is to set yourself apart from it.
I’m not undermining the risk in doing something new. But, that is exactly why I advocate extensive research and incubation. Every great idea needs the perfect preparation, and the appropriate moment, to deliver on its promise. Dare to dream big, but put in the hard yards to make that vision a reality.
About the author
Chandra Dake is the Executive Chairperson and Group CEO of the Dake Group - a community empowerment-driven, environmentally friendly, technology-focused organization. The Dake Group’s key focus areas include Agriculture, Energy, Commodity Trading, IT and Sustainable Technologies.