Disruption: the new business as usual

Written on 07 August, 2017 by Iona Yeung
Categories Small Business

Length: 3-5 minute read

Disruption is the buzzword of the moment and with good reason.

Uber, AirBnB and Netflix continue to upend old business models, change industries and blow open new possibilities for consumers.

But how can we use disruption creatively to grow our businesses?

A panel of disruption experts, Gus Balbontin (Lonely Planet), Dr Amantha Imber (Inventium) and Yvonne Adele  (aka Ms Megaybte) will be gathering in Melbourne on 4 September for an event called Small Business BIG Ideas .

The panel will share their experiences of managing—and exploiting—disruption to prime businesses for an exciting future. We asked them to share some of their insights ahead of the event.

1.    Handling disruption starts with the individual

Gus Balbontin reminds us that managing disruption starts with the individual.

“A business’ ability to change and embrace any kind of disruption is perhaps the most important capability it can develop … it all starts with our own personal ability to deal with change.”

Yvonne Adele agrees. “As long as small business owners are not pushing back and ignoring digital disruption, they're future-proof.”

In a small business, dealing with change really starts with you.

How do you personally manage change? Do you see it as a threat or opportunity?

2.    Disruption isn’t about technology, it’s about customer service

Gus says that often disruption isn’t actually about technological shifts; it’s about highlighting problems that were waiting for a solution.

Players that take the market status quo for granted are destined to be losers.

"If you think you have nailed a solution for your customers think again;  your customers’ problems are continuously evolving and so should your solutions" Gus says.

The idea is to focus not on abstract ideas of innovation but what your customers’ needs are. The business of being in business means solving customer problems all the time; this is true of both big and small businesses.

Dr Amantha Imber agrees that constantly evolving solutions are the best way to anticipate watershed change.

“I love the saying: ‘If you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got’” Amantha says. “If you want to improve what you do and how you do things as a small business owner, you must think creatively”.

What parts of your business are not meeting customer expectations? How can you solve this problem to deliver something useful and valuable every time? This could mean making changes to a product or a process.

3.    You can’t automate creative thinking. Yet.

Robots and automation are changing our lives rapidly, but there are some things they can’t do. Yet.

“As tasks become more automated, it is becoming clear the main thing human beings can continue to bring to the table is creativity” says Yvonne Adele.

“The more creative you are in business, the quicker you can adapt and grow. If processes can be completed by automation, leave those tasks behind and spend more time on the ones that need human creativity”.

In a small business  setting, this could mean using an invoicing app rather than trying to learn basic book keeping skills from scratch.

It could mean using an app or website to manage tickets sales rather than  chasing up calls or emails yourself.

Whatever gives you the most time to think differently about a business process or customer problem is helping you think more creatively.

Learn more from our expert panel

At Small Business Big Ideas (4 September) Gus will take you behind the scenes of how disruption affected travel publishing juggernaut Lonely Planet and show how he helped steer the company out of perilous waters.

Amantha will provide very practical tools to help small business put themselves ahead of their competition by innovating more effectively and providing a much better experience to their current customers.

Yovnne Adele is an outstanding mediator, as well as being a technology and innovation expert, and will help engage the audience to enhance their learning experience to the full.

Find out more about Small Business BIG Ideas on the event website.