How Breaking Tradition Can Open Your Business To More Opportunities

What does it take to succeed as a business owner? For some, the answer lies in this simple formula: breaking tradition.

While it may not sound like the most typical advice you’ll hear out there, there is surely a bit of truth to it. Besides, some of the world’s most groundbreaking products and services are launched by innovators who bravely stepped out of their comfort zones. Think of Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, and other trailblazers who started from humble beginnings but ended up forever changing the game after disrupting what was considered “normal” at the time.   

“All successful entrepreneurs are rule-breakers,” CRED founder Kunal Shah recently tweeted. “They don’t accept rules laid by the world.”

What does it actually mean to ‘break the rules’ as an entrepreneur?

Of course, all of this talk about breaking traditions and rules isn’t about committing illegal acts. It means thinking out of the box, challenging and defying trends that, at some point, may have been widely accepted by the public as well as other industry leaders.  

Smart entrepreneurs break the rules only when they “understand the systems that created those rules.” They did their homework and learned the rules and then “when the time is right,” they bend it to their advantage.

This can apply to updating old business practices or systems that clearly aren’t working any more - whether they are your own or not.

A classic example of this would be the story of Google Chrome, which was launched in September 2008 as a “fresh take on browser.” In the mid-90s, internet users heavily relied on Internet Explorer for their web browsing needs. Mozilla Firefox eventually picked up steam as a competitive alternative in the early 2000s. Not surprisingly, Chrome’s new features and faster browsing experience eventually won the hearts of many and it quickly rose as one of the most popular browsers to date.

Similarly, you - as a startup entrepreneur - can take time to evaluate your internal operations. That way, you can see areas you need to improve and forsake practices that aren’t leading to growth. If you’re having difficulty identifying which traditions to tweak, you may even ask for ideas from your staff members or investors. Involving your support system and stakeholders in the process could definitely help take your business to the next level.

Change is understandably scary because of the risks. It can either fail or succeed. But when done right, change can promote evolution that you’ve never experienced before. And even if things don’t go exactly to plan, it’s worth remembering that some of the greatest successes were born out of early failures

How can you find greater business opportunities when you break tradition?

In her epic novel Conquistadora, Puerto Rican author Esmeralda Santiago wrote this famous line: “How can you know what you're capable of if you don't embrace the unknown?”

At the start of the pandemic, numerous companies were badly affected by the lockdowns implemented by governments across the globe. Remote work eventually became the norm and businesses that embraced it soon realized its benefits. They not only survived but thrived in the middle of challenging times. 

According to a PwC survey, 83% of employers who responded shared that the “shift to remote work has been successful for their company.” Moreover, 54% of employees expressed the desire to continue “working remotely” even after the pandemic is over.

This example goes to show that, in some cases, common and established “rules” or “standards” aren’t exactly right all the time. While certain workplace arrangements may have been effective pre-pandemic, we’ve all seen the advantages of working from home and holding shorter team meetings via Zoom. As mentioned above, some want to keep these “new normal” practices - and with good reason.  

Of course, business owners do not have to wait for a global pandemic before implementing changes that could unlock new opportunities for their ventures. Coming up with better solutions for people’s problems, for instance, could generate increased profit. You just need to keep your entrepreneurial eyes wide open all the time and you’ll eventually spot new ideas and opportunities as they come. Creating revolutionary products or services could be possible.

Final thoughts

Ever read the book Who Moved My Cheese? This fable written by Dr Spencer Johnson has become a favorite among business owners because of its timeless lessons - one of which is “The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese.”

Of course, the ‘cheese’ in the story is “a metaphor for what you want to have in life,” explained Johnson, “whether it is a good job, a loving relationship, money, a possession, health, or spiritual peace of mind.”

While breaking tradition may not sound like an appealing idea for those who like to play it safe, it’s something that has to be done sooner or later. Whether we like it or not, change is constant and not being able to adapt to that can mean certain disaster for some. 

As Johnson also reminded all of us, “Life moves on and so should we.”

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