HOW I GREW MY BUSINESS AND BEAT THE COMPETITION BY RAISING THE RED FLAG

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Every morning at 4am, as I down my first cup of coffee, I browse the news. Inevitably I come across articles expounding about what you have to do to be successful. They cover how things must be done in your industry, or what the latest and greatest trends are that you absolutely must follow if you don't want to get left behind. The narratives throw you into a state a hysterical panic as you start to think that you need to implement everything they are talking about, or all your customers will go screaming in the other direction.

But, I'd like you to consider this. If everyone, all your competitors, are doing it one way, wouldn't it be more advantageous if you didn't?

Wouldn't you get more bang for your buck by doing the opposite of everyone else? You'd stand out in a cluttered marketplace. You'd have a direct line to raving fans. And, you'd get noticed for being more innovative than your competition.

In fact, I encourage you to start seeing the major current narratives as warning signs. Big red flags that what you are seeing are industry assumptions that should be broken and cluttered areas that should be avoided. Every time I see those news segments or talk to people now, a red flag goes up, and I run in the other direction.

Raising the red flag has helped me grow my business in ways I couldn't have imagined.

At The Shuuk, we focus on being a "Testing Ground" where new ideas are launched, and put into the hands of early adopters and the media for exposure and insights. We took this direction because, red flag, "inventor" online retails sites were popping up everywhere. It was all the rage. At first I made the mistake of listening to everyone else and tried to play that game, but all I got were headaches and frustrations. It took twice as much effort to get half the return. Once I made the switch and carved out new "Testing Ground" space, the customers, dollars and media flocked in. In fact, if you go to our site you'll find that you can't actually buy the inventions from us. I know, sounds shocking, but it works.

I do a lot of keynote speaking across the globe about innovation and entrepreneurship. When I first started speaking everyone told me I had to have a book to be taken seriously. At one meeting of speakers, I was told several times, and with complete confidence, that no meeting planner, or company, would take me seriously if I didn't have a book. I looked around at the more than 150 other speakers in the room and the red flag went up. If everyone in this room has a book, and they are all sending them to the same people, how is my book going to be any different?

So, instead of writing a book, I made Creativi-tees, t-shirts that allow you to wear your innovation on your sleeve, literally. They have statements like "innovate", and "I'm Possible" with cool designs. What do you think happened when my potential customers received 10 books and 1 Creativi-tee? Yup, they paid attention to the t-shirt.

Think about how inundated with marketing you feel on any given day. Your customers feel the same way.

A few months ago I started to notice that every website had that never-ending scroll design to it. They are like bottomless pages with a million places to click, watch and read. It's as if web design decided to take a page from infomercials and put the kitchen sink on the home page of every site. So, when I got bids for our new website I had a choice. I could follow the path that seemed to be all the rage, or I could do something different. I mean, if everyone is doing these super scroll websites, it must be working right? Go to The Shuuk now and you'll see the opposite. A simple home page that tells you what we do and only gives you 3 options to enter the site, all inside a frame. No scrolling, no videos, not even a navigation bar. Once we made that change, people joining The Shuuk went up 42%. I contend it's because we payed attention to the red flag and did the opposite. And just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean it's a good idea.

Think about businesses that have proven that not following their industry trends is good for business. Southwest got rid of assigned seating. Tough Mudder started the team competition craze.

I hope in these examples your wheels begin to turning and you start to raise the red flag when:

* Someone tells you it's what everyone else is doing

* You hear a segment about the latest craze that you must do

* Someone tells you it's how it's done

* You see it everywhere, even though you aren't sure why

Entrepreneurs and businesses that see "the current" and "how it works in this business" as red flags, versus guideposts, are much more likely to outperform in this highly demanding, ever-changing marketplace.