5 Keys to Becoming an Industry Disrupter

Change is hard, but the small-business owners unafraid to try something new will weather tough times and emerge as leaders in the field.

5 Keys to Becoming an Industry Disrupter

Shelley Armato

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Everyone has the potential to be an industry leader. These leaders are the ones who transform the world — who disrupt their industry and launch massive and positive change. 

The challenge is that too many people are comfortable and complacent with where they are. They’ve settled into the pattern of reacting to disruptions rather than causing them. Think about your own industry and how it’s changed over the years. Who initiated the biggest changes? Who were the disruptors? Were they the people who sat on the sidelines? Or the ones who took bold action?  

Contrary to popular belief, having access to large amounts of money isn’t what makes someone a disruptor. Money alone isn’t what makes change happen. In reality, tenacity and courage are all you need. So stop blaming others or outside circumstances for limiting your ability to enact change. By using the internal resources you already have, you can take action today. 

Here are the five keys that will help shift your mindset so you can be the disruptor others react to.

1. Get comfortable with change. 

Disruption is all about change. Any company that survives long-term has changed over the years. Whether they added new products or services, catered to a different market or totally reinvented themselves, they had the courage to morph in some way.

Unfortunately, many people get stuck in the vision of what their company was in the past, rather than what it could be in the future. This mindset forces them to always be reactive to the disruptions others make — they are never the disruptors themselves because they are too tied to the past. To transform your industry, you have to be future-oriented and ready to make a change at a moment’s notice. If you’re not nimble, you’ll never be the leader. Remember that everything is different today than it was just a few years ago, and that has to include you and your company. 

2. Look for the common challenges in your industry.

If you want to be an industry disruptor, you need to always be looking to solve challenges — at work as well as at home. In other words, problem solving must become a way of life, not just something you do when times are tough. Look around and ask yourself, “What can I do differently and better?” Realize that if you think something is challenging or in need of change, chances are that others think that too. Ask your customers and employees what changes they wish would transpire. Then really listen to their answers. Insight leads to change.   

3. Research everything.

To find the problems and the solutions, you need to know what’s going on in your industry at all times. Research solutions that others have tried to introduce. Sometimes disruption isn’t about reinventing the wheel; it’s about making the existing solutions better. Often, even a tenth of a degree of improvement can make massive progress. Additionally, do research for your emotional wellness, because when you’re emotionally healthy, you can take on anything. Broaden your research to encompass all aspects of yourself, your business and your industry. 

4. Be resilient in your ability to solve problems.

Being a disruptor means being resilient. To build your resilience, refrain from asking disempowering questions like “How am I going to do this?” A better question is “Why am I going to do this?” “Why” leads to “when,” and then “when” becomes “how.” With your “why” and “when” already mapped out, the “how” becomes much easier and you’re more apt to take that first step. Along the way, you’ll run into roadblocks and rejection. That’s OK. Learn from setbacks and harness your resilience to bounce back and keep going. 

5. Find the eagles in your life.

People in your life can either lift you up or pull you down. We all have people in our life who love hearing our problems and then telling us all the things we shouldn’t do. But if you let these people dictate your decisions, you’ll never be a disruptor. Instead, you have to find the eagles. During storms, eagles soar higher because they know the crosswinds will help them gain altitude. In other words, during challenges they rise. 

Those are the kind of people you want in your inner circle. Realize that the eagles in your life don’t have to be your friends. They can be coaches or mentors you hire or only see in a professional capacity. Ultimately, their goal is to help you soar higher, not encourage you to cower when things get tough. When you rely on your eagles for support and advice, you can see problems in a new light and come up with solutions that will transform your world. 


Regardless of your past successes or failures, you can initiate massive industry change. So why settle for always reacting to the disruptions that others enact? Have the courage to take action. Be the disruptor that leads your industry to new heights — and your company to even greater success. 


Shelley Armato is CEO at MySmartPlans and provides professional construction services to healthcare, scholastic, government and commercial market sectors. For more information, visit www.mysmartplans.com. 


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