You know what happens if you don’t grow your business. You join the Dodo Club, with notable members that include Blockbuster, Polaroid, Toys R Us, Compaq and Kodak. What do they all have in common, apart from no longer being in business? They had no strategy for a rapidly changing retail environment. They fiddled while Rome burned, just as Nero did. So how did some businesses fail while others went stratospheric?

  1. Reed Hastings, CEO Netflix. Aside from piggybacking on existing technology to transform the original DVD rental business to an online streaming platform which allowed members easier access to a plethora of films, Hastings’ and Netflix’ aggressive data mining of subscribers destroyed the opposition. While traditional entertainment companies relied on third-party research agencies to provide data, Netflix got to know its customers intimately by paying ultra-close attention to their behaviour.
  2. Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon. There are a dozen growth strategies you could copy from this company, but you might miss one of the most obvious, one which also makes the most sense. Bezos aimed to become the most customer-centric company in the world by providing world-class customer service, which has subsequently won multiple awards. How can you grow a business if your existing customers aren’t happy?
  3. Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, founders Airbnb. This company has come a long way from two friends who bought air mattresses for paying guests to sleep on as a means to pay the rent for their apartment. Embracing the trend for market disruption to grow their business, it took only ten years for these two entrepreneurs to create a company that today has been valued at US$31 billion and still has no plans to go public.
  4. Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, founders Uber. Through creating value both in terms of efficiency and cost sharing, they made the simple task of getting from A to B for Uber users hassle free. They also took advantage of what is called a ‘two-sided’ economy through Uber drivers meeting the needs of Uber users, to become the world’s largest ‘taxi company’ without owning a single taxi!
  5. James Watt and Martin Dickie (plus one dog), founders of Brewdog. You may wonder why two people and a dog you have never heard of appear on this list of ‘innovative giants’. As business pioneers, they deserve their place as within two year of starting their independent brewing company in Scotland, they had become the fastest-growing alternative beer brand in the UK. How did they achieve such rapid growth? Equity crowdfunding, and in 2015 it had become the largest crowdfunding scheme in history with 32,000 independent shareholders! That’s how you turn a business model on its head…

In short, don’t think outside the box, don’t even have a box in the first place…