- A very trendy and often overused word in the context of startups and entrepreneurship is this notion of disruption. There's a lot of things that are important about disruption, which is the new product that you're creating and the market you're going after, you're actually trying to disrupt what the status quo is. You're trying to create something that captures people's imagination. However, you want to be a little careful of it, because people tend to overuse the notion of disruption to apply to anything that's incrementally different.
One of the important things to recognize here is that disruption is significant, versus incremental. One of the ideas that comes up over and over again is when you're coming out with a new product that disrupts an existing market, where there are existing products, is that your product does have to be substantially better, we like to say 10x better, than the other products. When you think of disruption, think of it in the context of something that's at least 10x better than everything else. Now, with your first product, especially if your first product is a minimal viable product and it's still got lots of problems with it, you might not be in a place where that first product disrupts the market.
What you're trying to do is paint a long-term view around disruption and around how your customers are going to use your product. You're constantly looking for multiple angles in which your product is disruptive. Not just by being cheaper or being better or being a different color or having a different flavor than the other products in the market, but actually really meaningfully and dramatically improving your customer's life when they're using your particular product.
So, don't use disruption as a cliche where you fall into this trap of thinking that, oh, I'm doing something new and I need to disrupt what the status quo is, but actually look for the dimensions where you're actually going to start, through the use of your product, changing customer behavior and changing the dynamics of how people think about whatever category your product is in. One of the tools you can use when thinking about disruption, especially in the context of a market, is think forward a long period of time. Go forward 10 years into the future and imagine how things are going to be different in the market that you're going after with very broad-spread adoption of your product.
There are lots of different categories that you can apply this to. Think about, for example, today, how different the world of communication is as a result of things like Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn. And just the dynamics, whether that communication is business communication or that communication is politics, or that communication is just keeping track of what's going on with your friends and family. With your product, assume the same kind of adoption. Extremely widespread, lots of people using your product in lots of different ways all across the world, and then come back to where you are today.
That's the kind of scale that you need to be thinking about in the context of disruption, versus just, I launched my product, and now things got radically disrupted. Use that long-term timeframe to help actually improve what you're going after specifically with the product and the opportunity you're building.
- Define “shiny object syndrome.”
- Identify your customer’s pain.
- Determine the scalability of a product.
- Recall the best time to initiate customer acquisition.
- Review the differences between a passionate employee and an obsessed employee.
- Recognize the benefits of domain experience when building a founding team.