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What Does Disruption Mean for Small Businesses?


We see a lot in the news these days about large businesses, especially banks, and how they’re being displaced by small, fast, and agile tech startups. An interesting statistic that backs this up is that larger companies, including many Fortune 100 companies, at one time lasted for more than 50 years, but now the average lifespan of a massive public-listed company is about ten years. This change has been well publicised, but what isn’t often as well publicized is the disruption of the small business—and it’s massive.


If you think about the pressure Amazon has put on many of the small businesses out there, or the pressure delivery services like Uber Eats have put on mom-and-pop restaurants, these tech giants are now the first port of call that customers go to; they own the customer relationship, and not the retailers. The result is that everyone is getting disrupted massively. Gone are the days when people could start a company, such as a lifestyle business, to create a passive income with minimal effort. That’s becoming much harder to do due to the influx of technology. You’ve got to be running pretty fast just to stand still and do the same thing you could’ve easily done years ago.

So, what exactly does disruption mean and what can businesses do to combat it? Disruption is the act of changing the game by offering something different. For example, look at the shops that are successful on high street. They’re offering something different that the other (larger) guys can’t provide. Imagine, for a minute, that I start my own shop that offers the same eggs or prepackaged bacon that a supermarket like Walmart offers. Would it be successful? But what if I started that same shop tomorrow and instead stocked it with farm to fork, locally sourced, rare-breed sausages and bacon, various jams and honeys that are sourced locally and that people can’t find elsewhere? What if I created a company that’s organically led with a social influence for customers that are more woke because they’re looking to purchase products and services that they can’t get elsewhere? That’s the way you disrupt the market and avoid being disrupted by the Amazons of the world—by selling different products and services while understanding what your customers want by telling a story.

Recently I visited Australia and I saw disruption there firsthand. Interestingly, Starbucks couldn’t make it there, and Amazon hasn’t really taken a hold there either. The reason Starbucks hasn’t been successful is because, what we do in the United Kingdom and the United States doesn’t seem to work as well in Australia. In order for a coffeeshop to be successful there, you can’t create all the food in containers, buy them from factories, and have everything delivered all in the name of making as much profit as possible. The way they buck the trend in Australia is that they have coffee shops that deliver healthy, high-quality food—and Starbucks can’t deliver that—so these coffeeshops can’t be disrupted. If you can deliver healthy meals and provide really good, high-quality ingredients that tell a story to customers while providing something completely different that isn’t fast food and pre-packaged, but instead fresh and exciting, all while using ingredients that provide nourishment, that’s what thrives.

Disruption, deploying the right technology, and having a platform are ways to avoid this type of disruption. You also have to think differently if you’re going to become a retailer nowadays. If you’re a retailer and you’re selling the same products or services as, say, Amazon, and they can deliver it cheaper and easier than you can, do you really have a business model? Whereas before the rise of the internet, you did, but that’s no longer the case.

In essence, there really is a lot of disruption going on out there. It really boils down to not being nimble and not paying attention to your competitors. You want to adapt your business model and do something different from what all the big technology companies are seeing. You also need to be adopting technology and thinking the way a technology business thinks. So, when we think about Epos Now, what do we do? We download tools and services in order to be really successful and we keep up on growing and changing trends. It’s the same with a point-of-sale system. It’s not a till but rather a customer-success platform. By deploying that in your business, you’re automatically connected to all the latest technology, which enables you to remove repetitive work, risk, and fraud; integrate your payments; allow different ways for your customers to pay you; integrate with all the online payment platforms available; keep track of your stock; and even track staff performance.

The thing is that right now technology is changing the world at a pace faster than it ever has in history. You have to pay attention and look at what consumers are asking and wanting more than ever before, because they have so many choices. But for the right types of businesses that are listening to their customers and providing the services and products that are unique to their business and always thriving, they can stay one step ahead of avoiding this type of disruption from happening.



AUTHOR

Epos Now

The 46th fastest growing company in the U.K., Epos Now is an award-winning POS company trusted by over 30,000 businesses in 109 countries worldwide.The mission of Epos Now is to provide affordable, robust and scalable POS solutions in a user-friendly platform that integrates seamlessly with hundreds of the world’s best third-party solutions, delivering next-level hospitality and retail management for small businesses.



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