Learning from others to break the ‘rules’

In my previous post surrounding innovation, I spoke of the need for businesses to stop being hamstrung by unwritten rules of their organisation and industry. Many businesses abide by these rules as default; it’s what they’ve always done and what they will always continue to do. But imagine the possibilities of success for businesses that decide to buck the trend and break these rules?

Learning from others

One area SMBs can look for inspiration is businesses outside their own industry. Looking at the market leader within another industry is a great habit to get into. By looking at what they have done differently it’s often possible to uncover innovations that could be applied to the work you do.

Take Car Sales as an example. Car sales changed the way dealerships advertise for cars. Previously, dealers looking to sell a car would place a classified advertisement in the newspaper, costing large amounts of money with little guarantee or measurement for success. Car Sales entered the fray and allowed dealers to post their advertisements online free of charge, but charged dealerships according to every enquiry made for the car. Car Sales challenged the unwritten rule in the automotive advertising industry that ads are pre-paid, causing others to follow suit.

How to get started

Businesses should look to broaden their horizon and knowledge to ensure they are tapping into the wealth of knowledge from other businesses. I personally gain a lot of insight and benefit from meeting with CEOs from other industries. The Executive Connection (TEC), for instance, is a group which brings together SMB CEOs from a range of industries to offer insights and share experiences. Many of Upstream’s business innovations have stemmed from such networking.

So if you’re keen to do something different, start by broadening your network to gain insights on how others’ experiences can help your own business break the mould. And remember – rules, written or unwritten, are made to be broken.

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