It is a challenge to bring a game changing product or service to market. While all entrepreneurship is a challenge a product or service that is both new and a perceived threat to an entrenched industry presents its own set of challenges.
While we at SMG like to swim in a blue ocean over a red ocean we recognize the unique set of personal and professional challenges the entrepreneur must face when his/her product stands to unseat a powerful and embedded industry.
Having a plan is important. But a plan alone is not enough. You’ve got to be like Benedict Arnold.
Prior to providing the British forces with vital information regarding West Point, Benedict Arnold was our fledgling republic’s most daring and celebrated officers. His performance in the field speaks for itself: Ticonderoga, Quebec, Saratoga. While Colonel he successfully seized Fort Ticonderoga followed by an excursion up the Kennebec River with 1400 men surviving near starvation in an attempt to take Quebec and later maintain forces at Montreal. The following summer Arnold, now General lead a small fleet on Lake Champlain; built the fleet in a matter of months and stalled the entire british Northern Army long enough for American forces to regroup, eventually leading to Burgoyne’s defeat the following year at Saratoga. All the while eliciting the jealousy and contempt of Congress and less capable officers because he was of lower birth than they and a better leader. Though a staunch supporter of American ideals to the end Arnold’s infamous act came in 1780. It is suggested due to the constant insults to his character and his pocketbook that came in the face a lot of self-sacrifice.
Minus his treason what Arnold exemplified you need to embody for success with your new business.
- Complete knowledge of your capabilities and industry.
- A clear vision for the possible (what will our success look like).
- Undaunted tenacity.
- Consistent time spent anticipating your adversary’s next steps.
- Executing your strategy with complete follow-through and with post-performance assessment.
When Your Innovation is a Threat to the Establishment
Working backwards from your potential client/final sale understand the friends along the way you need in support of your efforts. These people will include regulators, politicians, funders and other business professionals. You need to align yourself with business people whose financial and political prowess will be a benefit to you.
As cynical as it may sound, you need more than your unshakable morals and positive energy to overcome all takers. While most people are threatened by regulators and permitting/licensing processes, your transparency in this process, not to mention awareness for when to talk to regulators vs. when to talk to politicians can win you friends in the right places.
Assuming you have a rock solid business plan and the right funding in place you need the additional strategic capital that allows you to anticipate your challengers moves. You need to spend real time thinking about who will challenge your next move, what you will do to counter that effort and what is your goal getting out of that maneuver. For every scenario you anticipate another you didn’t will occur. Without any plan or time spent thinking about it you’ll be less capable of dealing with issues.
Everyone has their limits. Even Benedict Arnold’s successes on the field couldn’t make up for the political and financial hits that lead him astray. Understand your limits and whenever possible focus on activities that push you forward with a sale rather than those that focus on the past.
Scott Graves is passionate about helping business owners. Tune in to his podcast series ‘No Boundaries Radio’ on the No Boundaries Radio Network. Meet him at the crossroads between strategy and innovation at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @smgcreative.