Disruption as an opportunity: what big business can learn from startups

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Disruption as an opportunity: what big business can learn from startups


Disruption is not a new concept. The difference in our modern world is that disruption happens at a much faster pace, and with this rapid disruption comes a need for businesses to keep up or get left behind. Adopting a startup mindset presents a unique opportunity for bigger businesses, as these smaller, often tech-driven companies can adapt to and drive change through innovation at great speed.

“Small business' main advantage is its agility, which enables it to respond rapidly to changes in market demand,” says Catherine Wijnberg, CEO of Fetola. “Compare a speed boat to an oil tanker, that's what big business needs to think about – how can it decrease its own internal red tape that keeps its anchor from dragging it down?”

Embrace technological disruption

“In this era of rapid change and social media, consumers know what is available. They demand the latest solutions, quicker services and customised products,” adds Wijnberg. “Last year’s designs, apps, websites, solutions are no longer appealing.”

The companies that lead the market are those that embrace technological changes and make innovation a top strategic priority. While established companies traditionally rely on sustaining technologies that have improved over time, startups adopt or create disruptive technology and programmes that optimise their operations and products to respond to their customers’ needs.

Examine vulnerabilities and deal with uncertainty

Startups often look at areas of bigger businesses that are vulnerable and find a door to the market by offering something that is more suitable for now. They are also primed to deal with uncertainty and failure. To stay ahead, businesses need to examine areas of the business that are vulnerable to disruptive changes, to look at megatrends and to deal with uncertainty by looking outside of the boundaries of their industries for potential opportunities.

Quick decision-making

The fast pace of disruption leaves little time for deliberation and arduous approval processes. Decentralising the decision-making process can give a business the edge that it needs. “Change requires freedom, so employ the best people, give them clear directions and a broad framework and then step out of the way so they can deliver. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” concludes Wijnberg.

06 Aug 2018