Categorized | Business

Become Your Own Marketplace Disrupter

By Tom Irmen

Many small business owners live in fear of the potential for “disruptive technology” to enter their marketplace, putting them out of business.  The fear of an Amazon-like disrupter displacing established marketplace leaders with innovative new ideas is enough to cause even the most ardent entrepreneur to lose sleep.

But take a step back for a moment.  Amazon, which was first launched as an online bookseller in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, generated only $511,000 in sales in 1995, posting a net operating loss of $303,000.  What you may not know is that Amazon was founded in the garage of Bezos’ home in Bellevue, Washington.

On April 1, 1976, Apple Computers, Inc. was founded by college dropouts Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.  Once again, launched from a garage, Jobs and Wozniak started building the Apple 1 and selling it without a monitor, keyboard, or casing, which weren’t added until 1977.

And childhood friends Paul Allen and Bill Gates set out to succeed in business utilizing their shared skills in computer programming, launching their first company, Traf-O-Data, in 1972 before establishing Microsoft in 1975.

Without question, the new technologies I have cited have had a profound impact on the world of business and our own personal lives, leaving many lamenting the fact that these disrupters have been the root cause of tens of thousands of companies closing their doors and millions of employees losing their jobs.  But the fact is that these innovators simply set out to satisfy existing or future perceived consumer needs or marketplace changes that they identified and responded to with their own unique marketplace innovations. And they accomplished their objectives with the meager resources they possessed at that time.

While few of us will rise to the level of Bezos, Gates, or Jobs, each of us has the potential of becoming a disrupter within our own marketplace by identifying changing consumer needs and then satisfying them with our own unique marketplace innovations.  Sound daunting?  Perhaps, but try to imagine the task ahead of you if your competition acts first.

Perhaps what is most remarkable about these early marketplace disrupters is just how unremarkable they likely appeared to others at the time. Marketplace disruption is the domain of risk taking, forward thinking, and innovative entrepreneurs and not just a handful of billionaires.

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