Small Business Owners: 3 Tips on how to Disrupt your Industry and find Success

As a Small Business Owner, you have a great passion for what you do and who you serve PLUS you have something else – the ability to Disrupt your industry in the most fantastic and magical ways!


My name is Denise Loris. I am a Cape Town Web Designer and Online Strategist with a passion for small business (I am also a night walker…well, I mean a night time student who binges on Coursera and currently NU Social Marketing. I study, clear the clutter and give you the information you need!)


Larry Alton, Freelance Writer and Former Entrepreneur, recently shared an article on with the title “How Purple, Uber and Airbnb Are Disrupting and Redefining Old Industries”. He explains a little more about what disruption is.

The word “disruption” is largely misused in entrepreneurial circles. Over the years, entrepreneurs have confused innovation with disruption. And, while disruption certainly involves a lot of innovation, they are not one and the same.

Whereas disruption turns an industry on its head by offering customers something that previously didn’t exist, innovation merely makes an existing value offering better, cheaper or faster. Do you see the difference?

Larry shares some examples in his article of companies that have recently caused quite a bit of disruption in their respective industries, such as Purple, Uber and Airbnb. All of these companies were not just innovative with what structures were already in place but rather changed the game completely. He also made it pretty clear that most companies that are causing disruption are taking the social aspect of consumerism into account when planning their way forward.

Some of the technology that has caused disruption in the 21st century. View the wheel with explanation here.


Andy Rachleff, President and CEO of Wealthfront, in his article titled “The truth about Disruption” on explains the two different kinds of disruption.

Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, defined “disruption” in The Innovator’s Dilemma. In short, a disruptive product addresses a market that previously couldn’t be served — a new-market disruption — or it offers a simpler, cheaper or more convenient alternative to an existing product — a low-end disruption.

An incumbent in the market finds it almost impossible to respond to a disruptive product. In a new-market disruption, the unserved customers are unserved precisely because serving them would be unprofitable given the incumbent’s business model. In a low-end disruption, the customers lost typically are unprofitable for the incumbents, so the big companies are happy to lose them.

Thus, the innovator’s dilemma. Incumbents appropriately ignore the new product because it is uneconomic to respond, but the incumbents’ quiescence can lead to their later downfall.

Andy also explained that disruptive products don’t have to be cheap. A low-end disruption doesn’t have to be lower priced than existing products. A low-end disruption must be simpler, cheaper or more convenient. In other words, it must have some ‘edge’ to it.


Andy points out that business models, not products, are disruptive. In order to succeed, he says, you need to not just have a better product but you must also disrupt the industry.

Understanding what disruption is and identifying ways to disrupt your Industry may lead you to creating that successful business that you want. Here are 3 tips that will help you on your journey:

  1. Do some Research. Research what your customers’ needs and wants are and find unconventional ways to provide them with the service/products they need.
  2. Make it Easy. Find ways to make access to your business, services or products quicker, easier or more convenient.
  3. Remove Something (or make it Simpler). What happens when you remove film from a camera? You have the digital photography industry.

You have the opportunity to disrupt your industry, grow your business and change the very ways your industry does anything and everything. That, to me, sounds like an exciting challenge!

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