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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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Neil Tilley

Neil Tilley

Neil Tilley is the CEO and co-founder of Upstream Print Solutions, a company that achieved success as Australia’s largest independent managed print solutions company. Neil founded Upstream after seeing an opportunity in the market to help customers save money on their printing. In 1995, along with Gordon Hoen, he formed the Upstream Group: a group of companies with the shared vision to help businesses reduce the cost and hassle of document output management. These companies, including Upstream Technology and Print Solutions Australia, merged in 2007 to become Upstream Print Solutions. In 2010, Upstream became a wholly owned, independent subsidiary of Fuji Xerox Australia. In his role as CEO, Neil is focused on providing continued innovation and value to customers, and fostering an environment where staff can show their own entrepreneurial spirit. Read more about Upstream at <a href="http://managed-print-solutions.com.au/">The Upstream Blog</a>.

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