Business Assassins

“Every business should have a team whose entire purpose is to destroy the business”

Sounds a bit insane, but it actually might be one of the more brilliant pieces of advice I’ve heard as I sat at dinner with PXT Payments Chief Marketing Officer Rivka Tadjer (an influencers@ client) last week. Considering the fast pace of today’s business climate (especially in technology and entrepreneurship), if we want to survive, we need to innovate and find new ways to delight our customers before our competitors do. However, many businesses don’t do that. They get comfortable with products or services that people liked last year, and assume they will continue to work in the future. Consider Blockbuster’s bust – when Netflix first came out, Blockbuster management didn’t think much of them.

Now suppose Blockbuster had a crazy internal destruction team. Let’s call them the assassins. When brainstorming “what might mess up our physical retail locations?” online streaming might have made its way into the conversation. The thing that could “destroy” your current business might actually be your next product or service release. 

Even for earlier stage start-ups, we need to constantly be thinking about how our business model and product can evolve. We start early be leveraging lean principals to continuously user test and iterate rapidly (Jason Evanish is my go-to expert there). While it might not be feasable (especially at the early stages with limited capital) to have an actual team dedicated to “business destruction”, you might consider implementing the following at your venture:

1. Make it part of the culture

Everyone on the team should always be thinking about innovating and identifying potential threats to the business. Consider encouraging openness and collaboration where people are comfortable enough to say “look what this other company is doing… this might hurt us, how can we beat them and do it ourselves?”

2. Apply pressure

Blockbuster must have not felt much pressure or anxiety to address Netflix’s entrance and rise in the market. We need to apply pressure that says to teammates “while we are doing a good job now, this won’t be enough to last forever. Lets push harder.”

One thing is for sure, I will be taking Rivka’s advice and making it a part of my regular brainstorming meetings at influencers@. We will always consider what might destroy our business, and align ourselves so potential destruction becomes profit.

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