VD43: Being a pioneer and how it applies to business

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WHAT DOES BEING A PIONEER MEAN?

What do snorkeling and marketing have in common? Leave it to me to find the correlation between the two. I know it sounds strange, but I promise I can explain…

I recently visited Koh Phi Phi in Thailand with a friend who came to visit me in this part of the world. We snorkeled a bunch, and as I observed the various schools of fish, it got me to think about what does it mean to be a pioneer and how does it apply to business?

Back to the fish, it was interesting to witness how schools of fish moved in groups and competed aggressively for food. From time to time, I would witness a fish wander on its own, stray away from his posse, and he would end up banking on a huge piece of food by himself. Wandering on his own really paid off, so maybe being adventurous has its rewards for business owners, too.

These days, it feels like everything under the sun has already been done, which is how I saw the difference between the masses of fish competing for the same resources and the ones that strayed away from the norm.

Through my Global Influencer podcast, where I interview various entrepreneurs, I’ve noticed the good old saying, “think differently and you will create new opportunities for yourself,” has been confirmed as valid. Those brands that stray from the norm to do something differently are the ones finding the most success. Take, for example, the “Life is Good” brothers, who became millionaires by adding optimism to their T-shirts and selling them by driving a used van up and down the east coast.

So, what is the common denominator for the successful businesses and how can it apply to you?

1. Don’t reinvent the wheel

Unlike popular belief, innovation is not an easy road to take. It took the founders of iRobot 10 + years to be able to make their business profitable. Often times, inventors suffer from being too ahead of their time because it takes time for general public to adapt and be comfortable with such technological advancements. It’s best to stick with something that already is successful, but think about how you can enhance it.

2. Be disruptive in your industry

It’s all in the execution. Focus on the one thing you would do differently, like the lovely founders of Flora Nuit, who focused on creating a fun, easy-going shopping experience for their customers by having at-home shopping parties. They focused on how they could enhance the shopping experience when buying lingerie, and that’s what differentiates them from the other e-commerce businesses in the same space.

3. Look abroad

Be open-minded, like the fish that strayed from his school to reap a bigger reward on his own. Through traveling, I have witnessed first-hand how many opportunities there are abroad, especially in emerging markets. And with the beauty of the Internet, it’s never been easier to sell internationally, so take advantage of it!

So, the moral of the story: observe trends, welcome ideas as they come to you, and remember that being a pioneer simply means walking to a different beat. There’s no need to be Albert Einstein. I know I’m not!

 

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