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As owners of smaller businesses, we often think we’re too small to make a difference, to compete with the market leaders.

We’re wrong, though!

The Dalai Lama made the point by reminding us how much we can be disrupted by a single mosquito – something that is miniscule in relation to us.

And we don’t have to look hard in business for evidence of giants being disrupted by start-ups…

Wikipedia, for example, brought Encyclopaedia Britannica to its knees – it published for the last time in 2012, after more than 240 years of successful circulation.

Or Skype, which so disrupted telephone companies around the world (others have since copied and even improved on Skype, of course, but it remains a considerable presence). How many people still make expensive international ‘traditional’ calls when you can call a landline anywhere in the world from your mobile for just a couple of cents a minute?

And look at Netflix, where problems with returning rented DVDs led us to where we are today, disrupting not only traditional television services and cable suppliers but the entertainment industry as a whole – so much so that it spent some $17 billion creating its own content last year, with the budget growing strongly year on year.

But, of course, disruption goes much further than simply producing a new approach to an existing market. It is often about looking back up the entire supply chain to see where this can be changed, and about looking to pre-empt risk factors in general – risk management being a key responsibility of a company’s board.

For example, Germany is currently finding itself in deep trouble, due to Russia supplying around a third of its gas and oil and about half of its coal. With the EU, US, UK and others imposing sanctions on Russia, Germany’s ability to ensure sufficient power, heating and fuel for its citizens and industries is under threat. While one can argue that the country’s leaders were foolish to put such reliance on a single course of supply, especially one which has been showing increased risk tendencies in recent years (invasions of Georgia and Ukraine’s Crimea in 2008 and 2014, respectively, for example), company boards should also have been looking at how they could reduce their levels of risk.

Internationally, the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24th February has been prompting companies to look at exposure to other potentially unstable regions and start to work out how to move supply sources from these to other areas. This is obviously more difficult for large, complex businesses than smaller ones.

The bottom line is that any start-up nowadays can disrupt an entire industry and unseat giants – it just depends on the needs and opportunities identified. And, certainly, start-ups being by nature more nimble than large corporate structures have the advantage of speed and flexibility, aspects which are so important when looking to disrupt.

You’re never too small to make life uncomfortable for large competitors.

#BusinessFitness #Boards #Business #CEO #Change #Crisis #Disruption #Entrepreneur #Governance #Leadership #Opportunity #Planning #Resilience #Success #Unstoppable #QOTW

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