Attend any business-related event, and sooner or later you’ll hear the word “disruption.” While I initially thought of a surprise April snowstorm or a power outage as a business disruptor, it turns out that wasn’t the right idea at all. Disruptors are anything related to changes in staffing, supply acquisition, technology or additional competition.
Uber often is cited as the ultimate industry disruptor. The app upended what was a lucrative business — taxi cabs. Uber and similar ride-sharing apps now account for 70 percent of the ground transportation market for business travelers. The taxi industry is paying the price for not responding or having enough time to adjust. That story’s message? Disruptors are something to fear.
That’s why the message Scott Teerlinck, president of Werner Electric Supply, shares is so refreshing. He views a disruptor as a potential positive for businesses. “If you play your cards right, you can use a disruption to your advantage,” he said during the St. Norbert CEO Breakfast Series held in mid-January in Appleton.
In Werner Electric’s case — and for many companies that sell products — Amazon is a disruptor. Customers can go to the e-retailer and purchase the same items sold by Werner at a lower cost. While Teerlinck knew Werner couldn’t price match Amazon, he realized the company could differentiate itself through service.
“Amazon can’t teach customers how to use these products, but we can,” said Teerlinck, before discussing the events Werner Electric has held to educate customers about the products they are purchasing or considering purchasing.
In the publishing industry, the internet and its free online news offerings have been huge disruptors. At Insight, we differentiate ourselves through our in-depth articles about New North businesses, personalities and the latest trends along with outstanding design and photography. We recognize, however, the need to also have a robust online presence, which is why we now dedicate more time to posting the latest news on our website throughout the work week. We want Insight to not only be the source for in-depth business features, but also the website to visit if you’re looking for the latest business happenings in the New North.
Finding a way to differentiate your business is one way to deal with disruptors. Every business has at least one disruptor. What’s yours and how do you plan to address it? Ignore it and your business will pay the price.