All entrepreneurs want to disrupt their industries, but few ever succeed in doing so. Disruption—if done right—is the great differentiator, and the source of deep and lasting competitive advantage. B2B company owners are more likely to gain this advantage by implementing five basic steps, which may be easier read than done.
Note: Any one of the five steps discussed in this article can be helpful individually, but no one of them will get you to disruption. Two or three won’t do it. It’s all or nothing, and that’s what makes this seemingly simple list so challenging.
Examples are always helpful, and I have been following a B2B entrepreneur team whose strategic recipe integrates the full list of ingredients necessary for disruption. In 2008, Andrew K. Smith (CEO) and Shauna K. Smith (CMO) founded Four Foods Group (FFG), a restaurant investment, operations and management company that has reached annual sales of over $150M with five brands, 124 restaurants and 3,400 employees. Shauna explains, “Our approach has been both simple and difficult at the same time. And it took us a few years to dial in the right combination of factors, but now we are enjoying a number of sustainable competitive advantages in our industry.”
Here’s how the Smiths have built a disruptive company. Can you apply these five steps in your industry?
Step 1—Identify the unsolvable problem(s) your prospects keep bumping up against
The Smith’s first venture in the restaurant arena was with local Utah-based brand, Kneaders Bakery & Cafe. This fast-casual restaurant had only four locations at the time. By partnering with FFG, Kneaders has grown to 58 locations with seven under construction to be opened in 2018. The challenge of taking a restaurant brand from four to 58 stores in a relatively short period of time has been a harrowing and educational experience. “We quickly learned how difficult it is to grow a brand in this industry,” Andrew remembers. “But we also were able to identify and address the pain points that every growing brand experiences.”
The unsolvable problems quickly came into focus. Restaurant owners hit a wall at three to six stores. At that point, an owner’s attention shifts from food quality and consistency to logistical concerns of hiring, training, payroll, processes, procedures, management, fund raising, site selection, construction, distribution and countless other functions that distract from core ‘stirring-the-sauce’ activities. Restaurant owners typically lack interest and expertise in growth-related responsibilities. This is why even great brands with fanatical followings find it difficult to break out in this industry.