Disruptor: a person or thing that prevents something, especially a system, process, or event, from continuing as usual or as expected
What do those two words mean to you? To a lot of people they mean think bigger. But bigger than what? If you have a website that sees 100 visits a day thinking bigger might mean a goal is to see 200 visitors a day. This is certainly a verifiable level of success, no doubt. Doubling traffic should never be overlooked or taken for granted.
Unfortunately, however, a lot of people would accept that doubling of traffic is the goal.
For some of us doubling the traffic, in this particular scenario, would be but a small step on a long staircase. This because the thinking isn’t just about traffic. Traffic is a surface variable. A small piece of a larger puzzle.
Bloggers, vloggers and digital nomads often get caught up in stats, viewing their subscriber counts, likes and traffic tallies as the ultimate indicator of successful trends. Of course, there is nothing wrong with monitoring stats and celebrating growth. This can often be a positive indicator that hard work is paying off.
But here’s the kicker. I know an entrepreneur who has just under 60 customers on a private webinar/consulting/learning platform and she makes $72,000 a year on that platform alone. For her it wasn’t about finding tens of thousands of followers. It was about finding 60 who would pay $100 a month for her advice, experience and guidance.
She’s now recruiting several of these customers to begin providing the exact same service for 60 of their own customers after learning everything they could from her over the past year or two. A few weeks ago she relayed to me that she plans to triple her income on the platform by 2019. This would place her revenue on a single platform at more than $200,000 annually.
Can she do it? Of course she can. Her services are top notch and the only reason her client list hasn’t grown is because she doesn’t want to dilute the service she provides to the clients she now has. But the model was built with scale in mind. And now that several of her clients are ready to step up to do what she does for them, scaling is very viable.
I know this because for about a year I was one of those customers. What I learned throughout my time as a “student” was second to none. Yes, it cost me $1,200 a year to learn what I wanted to learn, but I’ve generated far more than that $1,200 investment since working with the system.
This particular individual views herself as a disruptor. Her plans were always big. They were never about 60 customers at $1,200 a year. They were and are about 1,000+ customers at $1,200 a year. The foundation had to be built, tested and implemented. The initial service had to be tried, tested and proven.
The scaling can now begin.
This sort of big thinking has caused a lot of friction. She has competitors railing on her for stepping on their toes and into their space. Bigger companies who have heavily invested in the space. Marketers who have been there working at it for years and years. She showed up a couple years ago and did it better. She built something more user friendly and user focused. She put a better spin on it, made the product more relevant and provided a better experience from start to finish.
She disrupted the space.
Think big shouldn’t just mean think bigger. For me it means think the way your competitors are thinking and then expand your vision into a completely different universe. I think of what my competitors are thinking and force myself to see that vision as small. Small, outdated and beatable.
I recently had someone tell me I was building something that does some of what someone else is already doing. The assertion is that I should join forces with the competition and help them become bigger using my experience and talents to build on an existing platform.
I don’t want to add or compliment what already exists. I want to reinvent. I want to find niche spaces and dominate them. I want to elevate to 100,000 feet so I can see what those at 30,000 feet are doing and do it bigger. Bigger and better.
Of course, saying this is easy. Doing it is seemingly impossible for most. Which is why most don’t disrupt at this level. Most will see such a vision and conclude it’s too steep of a climb. Too much work and risk. Too much sacrifice.
Which is why one of the first steps to take in being a disruptor is surrounding yourself with others who can think big. Who can embrace the vision and apply themselves towards it as a team effort. One person cannot build an aircraft. This even though just two people invented it.
– Build a Collaboration
A key part of being a successful disruptor is assembling a team of disruptors. A team that can share the risk, sacrifice, drive and complex work involved in implementing a disruptive vision. This team must come from similar experience pools in terms of the industry/market targeted. They have to have a good understanding of the market (business and consumer), the problems or shortfalls and the solutions your vision will present.
When this team is together they must be cherished. They must be rewarded, admired and recognized as the engine that will accelerate the machine. Because they are the engine. You are the fuel.
I’ve worked with companies that looked at my work as forward thinking, innovative and game changing. Said companies enjoyed the game changing, but made no effort to reward my part in any meaningful way.
I’m no longer with any of these companies. A voluntary decision on my part because I simply didn’t feel as though I had skin in the game. I didn’t feel like I was part of the driving force that saw reward with success.
Don’t let good people get away. Build your team of disruptors and then be absolutely loyal. Go out of your way to reward them. Share the fruits of your labor with them. View them as an extension of yourself and help them understand how to see it all through the same lens.
– Don’t Just Act The Role, Play The Role With Perfection
Don’t just say you’re a disruptor… be one. Become the character in both actions and words. Embrace the label, the mindset and all the hurdles that will come with it. Grow a thick skin. Don’t be easily offended. Don’t be afraid to take constructive criticism and don’t fear blowing off bad advice.
Be extremely confident in your vision and your decisions, but make them based on solid logic.
Become a leading voice. Be known as an expert in your field because you are. If you aren’t then you aren’t ready. If you’re ready, however, wear that readiness like a neon lit badge. Let that readiness empower you.
Trust your partners and ensure they trust you. Don’t just share your vision with them, paint the full picture on a daily basis. Make sure your team is never in the dark. Be transparent, open and honest with them at all times.
If you’re going to be a disruptor, be one. Live it, breath it and operate as it.
You’re not going to succeed because you’re like everyone else. You’re going to succeed because everyone else is not like you.
– Prepare to Sacrifice
Prepare to fail. Prepare to make mistakes. Prepare to sacrifice. Expecting to be flawless with no changes in lifestyle is not only unrealistic… it’s dangerous.
You will make mistakes. You will fail. What will set you apart from the rest is your ability to pick yourself up, learn from your failures and go win.
There will be a season in which you’ll spend more than you make. You’ll not be enjoying a night at the movies like you once could. You won’t be able to enjoy fancy dinners or splurge on flashy toys.
You’ll work more hours than you want. You’ll have to tackle all aspects of your vision. The parts that you like to work on and the parts that make you want to pull your hair out with boredom and monotony.
You’ll likely go through a period of time in which you have no money, a lot of stress and a consistent feeling of exhaustion.
Sounds wonderful, right? So much to look forward to…
This isn’t child’s play. This isn’t for the weak. Thinking big followed by succeeding big is not easy. Not in any way, shape or form.
If it were then a lot more people you know would be viewing the playing field at a 100,000 foot view while changing the game across their targeted industry. They aren’t. Because this is very, very difficult to succeed at.
The good news is that if you can “embrace the suck,” to borrow a phrase from Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Madden, apply yourself in every way possible and get through the difficult sowing season, there will be fruit. And it will be disruptive, profitable and rewarding.
Be a builder. But don’t let it end there. Take it a step further, separate yourself from the crowds and be a disruptor.
Accept nothing less.