You know that the key to success in your business will be being different from the others. You’ll get nowhere being just like the competition. But rarely is a business idea disruptively new, either, and when it is, it has to be more than radical. It has to fill a customer need. The vast majority of successful businesses startups are variations on an existing idea. Take something that has already been done, and do it better.
In To Innovate—Break a Rule, Thomas Ordahl recommends changing the “rules of the game” in an industry to make a difference. He cites the example of Barnes & Noble, which challenged the tacit rule of the retail book industry that bookstores had to be quiet and stuffy, and reading was discouraged. Today, thanks to Barnes & Noble, “Not only can you drink coffee in a comfortable chair while reading a book that you haven’t bought yet, but you bought the coffee in the in-store cafe. The bookstore went from being a place of foreboding to a social destination-in large part because Barnes & Noble had the foresight and temerity to risk breaking many of the seemingly inviolate rules of its industry.” He also notes Starbucks, JetBlue and other innovative business models that revolutionized an industry.
Where are your industry’s rules? Look at service levels, pricing models, distribution, and customer experiences. Learn what irritates customers about the way they are served by the industry, and break that rule! Customers will reward you for it.