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What is a Disruptor in Chief and Why Does Your Small Business Need One?


Small business owners and their stakeholders are often comfortable with the status quo. After all, why rock the boat if things are working right? However, you need to mix things up and embrace change if you want your small business to grow and thrive. Otherwise, you may be left behind, as plenty of retail store owners, travel agents, and newspaper publishers can attest.

To discover opportunities for change and growth, consider appointing a specific team member as your “Disrupter in Chief.” This guide, complemented by expert insights, provides strategies to identify and empower such a leader. It ensures your business adapts and leads in innovation within your industry.

What is a Disrupter in Chief?

A Disrupter in Chief (DC) for small businesses is a stakeholder within that organization who plays a pivotal role in driving positive change and innovation. This individual is responsible for challenging the existing norms and processes within an organization to foster growth and adaptability.

By questioning the status quo, the Disrupter in Chief encourages the business to explore new ideas, strategies, and methodologies that can lead to significant advancements and competitive advantages.

Michael Haddon, CEO of the business software company Kradle, provides further insight into this role. In an email interview with Small Business Trends, Haddon described a DC as “a stakeholder in a business who inspires and supports positive change by challenging the status quo.”

This definition underscores the importance of having someone within the organization who is dedicated to steering the business toward continual improvement and innovation, ensuring it remains dynamic and responsive to the ever-changing business landscape.

Why You Might Need a Disruptor in Chief

Haddon also shared some insights on why this position can be so beneficial for small businesses. Here are the top reasons why you should consider adding a DC to your team.

You Need to Change But Are Afraid to Do So

Change is essential for any growing business. But it also represents a significant amount of risk. So many entrepreneurs simply hope to grow without taking that necessary risk that goes along with it.

Haddon says,

“As businesses evolve, often the biggest hurdle to future success is an unwillingness to change – or the desire to keep doing things the same way as they have always been done. As an example, based on research we commissioned in 2018 (a comprehensive survey of 700 small to medium enterprises (SMEs) across USA, UK and Australia), we found that 76% of businesses in the US would like to grow. However, only 27% of those same businesses anticipated change in the next 12 months. A DinC embodies the 27% of businesses that recognize that in order to grow, change must occur.”

You Need Someone to be Proactive in  Making Change Happen

Even if you’re open to change, you might not be able to put enough focus on looking out for those opportunities while you’re busy running all of the other aspects of your business. A disruptor in chief can be a decision maker within your organization or an influencer or advisor whose sole focus is on finding those opportunities proactively so that you and the other members of your team can focus on your specific duties while still being able to take advantage of growth opportunities as they come up.

Haddon says, “They recognize gaps and opportunities, and they use that knowledge to take it upon themselves to improve the business. This could be by creating and driving a new growth strategy based on market changes, identifying inefficiencies within the operations of a business, inspiring staff to be more productive and loyal to the business, or identifying innovative technologies that can improve the business. In a nutshell, a DC is proactive and always looking for new ways to continuously improve any aspect of a business.”

You Need Someone to Inspire Others

In addition to being proactive, a DC also needs to be knowledgeable, driven and able to inspire others. That final quality can really help businesses shape their culture into one where change and innovation are embraced, fostering even more growth opportunities than one person can lead you to.

Haddon adds, “These traits as a complete package can be hard to come by – as reflected in our research which rated finding top talent as the third greatest challenge for SMEs – as they do not always come naturally. These traits can also be taught to the right people and further nurtured by the right mentors/leaders. Businesses need to invest in their staff to bring out the best in them, not simply seek to hire perfection. An irreplaceable quality is attitude. If they lead by example, others will follow. After all, diamonds don’t start out shining.”

Challenges in Small Business Role of a Disruptor in Chief (DC)
Fear of Change Overcoming fear of change
Proactive Change Management Identifying opportunities proactively
Inspiration and Leadership Fostering a culture of innovation
Bridging the Talent Gap Nurturing valuable traits
Investing in Staff Development Building a skilled workforce
Leading by Example Setting a positive example

What is a Disruptor in Chief and Why Does Your Small Business Need One?

Embracing Change with a Disrupter in Chief

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, embracing change is crucial for small businesses to thrive and grow. To navigate these shifts effectively, consider appointing a Disrupter in Chief within your organization. Here’s why this role can be a game-changer for your small business:

  • Overcoming the Fear of Change: Change often involves risks, and many entrepreneurs hesitate to embrace it. However, stagnant processes can hinder growth. A Disrupter in Chief embodies the courage to challenge the status quo and recognizes that change is essential for future success.
  • Proactive Change Management: Small business owners have numerous responsibilities, making it challenging to proactively seek growth opportunities. A DC can focus solely on identifying gaps and opportunities, driving growth strategies, improving operations, and inspiring productivity, ensuring that change happens efficiently.
  • Inspiring Innovation: A successful Disrupter in Chief is not only proactive but also inspiring. They possess the knowledge and drive to inspire others within the organization. This quality can foster a culture of innovation and change acceptance, paving the way for more growth opportunities.
  • Facilitating Strategic Decision-Making: With a DC in place, businesses can better navigate the complexities of the modern market. This role aids in making informed, strategic decisions by analyzing trends, data, and opportunities, thus steering the company toward long-term success.
  • Enhancing Competitive Edge: By continuously seeking and implementing innovative solutions, a Disrupter in Chief helps maintain and enhance the company’s competitive edge. This ensures the business remains relevant and ahead of industry shifts, securing its position in the market.

What is a Disruptor in Chief and Why Does Your Small Business Need One?

Implementing a Disrupter in Chief Effectively

Once you’ve recognized the need for a disrupter in chief in your organization, it’s essential to ensure a smooth integration of this role. Here’s a guide to implementing yours effectively:

  • Clear Role Definition: Define the DC’s responsibilities, authority, and scope within your organization. Ensure that their role aligns with your business’s growth objectives and challenges.
  • Recruitment or Selection: Identify individuals within your organization who exhibit the qualities of a disruptor or consider external candidates who bring fresh perspectives. Look for individuals who are proactive, innovative, and capable of inspiring change.
  • Training and Development: If necessary, provide training and development opportunities to nurture the DC’s skills. This may include leadership, innovation, and change management training.
  • Integration into Teams: Integrate the DC into your existing teams, ensuring they have access to relevant information and stakeholders. Encourage collaboration and open communication.
  • Regular Reporting: Establish a reporting structure that allows the DC to regularly update leadership on potential opportunities, challenges, and progress toward implementing changes.
  • Measuring Success: Define key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the DC’s impact on your organization’s growth and adaptability. Regularly review and assess their contributions.
  • Cultivate a Culture of Change: Encourage a culture where employees at all levels are open to change and innovation. The DC can play a vital role in fostering this culture.
  • Support and Resources: Provide the necessary resources, including budgets and tools, to empower the DC in driving positive change.
  • Continuous Improvement: Recognize that the role of a DC evolves over time. Encourage ongoing learning and adaptation to stay ahead in a dynamic business environment.

What is a Disruptor in Chief and Why Does Your Small Business Need One?

Empowering Your Disrupter in Chief

To maximize the effectiveness of your Disrupter in Chief and ensure they drive positive change within your small business, consider the following strategies:

  1. Clear Communication: Establish open and transparent channels of communication with your DC. Encourage them to share their insights, ideas, and findings with the entire team. Create an environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing their thoughts on potential changes.
  2. Continuous Learning: Invest in the professional development of your DC. Support them in acquiring new skills, staying updated on industry trends, and attending relevant workshops or training programs. A well-informed DC is better equipped to identify opportunities for improvement.
  3. Collaborative Approach: Foster collaboration between your DC and other team members. Encourage cross-functional teams to work together on projects related to innovation and change. This collaborative effort can lead to holistic solutions and more successful implementations.
  4. Resource Allocation: Provide your DC with the necessary resources and tools to explore and implement changes. Whether it’s budgetary support, access to research materials, or technology solutions, ensure they have what they need to drive innovation.
  5. Metrics and Accountability: Define clear metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the impact of changes proposed and executed by your DC. Hold them accountable for achieving specific goals related to business growth, efficiency, or customer satisfaction.
  6. Feedback Loop: Establish a feedback mechanism where employees and customers can provide input on proposed changes. Your DC can use this valuable feedback to refine strategies and make data-driven decisions.
  7. Recognition and Reward: Recognize and reward the efforts and successes of your DC and their team. Celebrate milestones, innovations, and positive outcomes resulting from their disruptive initiatives. This recognition can boost morale and motivation.
  8. Adaptability Training: Offer adaptability training to your entire workforce. Help employees embrace change, adapt to new processes, and understand the benefits of innovation. This will create a more change-ready environment.
  9. Long-Term Vision: Work with your DC to develop a long-term vision for your small business. Align this vision with your core values and mission, ensuring that all changes contribute to your overall strategic goals.
  10. Regular Reviews: Conduct regular reviews and assessments of the disruptive initiatives undertaken by your DC. Evaluate the impact on the business, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement. Adjust strategies as needed based on these assessments.
Key Insight Actionable Strategy
Clear Communication Establish transparent channels for sharing insights.
Encourage team-wide idea expression. Create an open environment for discussing potential changes.
Continuous Learning Invest in the DC’s professional development.
Support skill acquisition and industry awareness. Encourage attendance at relevant workshops and training.
Collaborative Approach Foster cross-functional teamwork on innovation projects.
Promote synergy for holistic solutions. Drive successful implementation through collaboration.
Resource Allocation Provide budgetary support for innovation endeavors.
Ensure access to essential research materials. Equip the DC with necessary tools and technologies.
Metrics and Accountability Define measurable KPIs for assessing change impact.
Hold the DC accountable for achieving goals. Evaluate their contribution to business growth.
Feedback Loop Establish mechanisms for employee and customer input.
Utilize valuable feedback to refine strategies. Make data-driven decisions to improve changes.
Recognition and Reward Celebrate DC-led milestones and innovations.
Boost team morale and motivation. Reinforce a culture of innovation and positive outcomes.
Adaptability Training Offer adaptability training for the entire workforce.
Prepare employees to embrace change. Foster understanding of the benefits of innovation.
Long-Term Vision Develop a strategic, mission-aligned vision for the business.
Ensure changes align with core values. Keep long-term goals in mind when implementing changes.
Regular Reviews Conduct ongoing assessments of DC-led initiatives.
Adjust strategies based on evaluations. Ensure alignment with business, customer, and employee needs.

What is a Disruptor in Chief and Why Does Your Small Business Need One?


In conclusion, embracing change and innovation is paramount for the growth and success of any small business. The role of a Disrupter in Chief (DC) can be a game-changer in this pursuit. A DC brings a unique blend of proactivity, innovation, and inspiration to the organization, making them instrumental in identifying opportunities, driving positive change, and fostering a culture of adaptability.

Small businesses often face the challenge of resisting change due to risk aversion or resource constraints. However, as demonstrated by the research, the willingness to embrace change is a critical factor in achieving growth. A DC embodies this willingness and actively seeks out ways to improve various aspects of the business, from operational efficiency to market strategies.

Moreover, a DC’s role extends beyond merely spotting opportunities; they inspire and lead by example, motivating others to join in the pursuit of innovation. By nurturing these qualities in your organization and investing in your staff’s growth, you can create an environment where positive change is not only welcomed but embraced.

As you consider integrating a Disrupter in Chief into your small business, remember that their success relies on clear role definition, continuous development, and seamless integration into your teams. Regular assessment of their impact and the cultivation of a culture of change are equally essential.

In a rapidly evolving business landscape, staying stagnant is not an option. Small businesses that harness the power of a DC and champion change will be better equipped to navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and thrive in the ever-changing marketplace. Embracing change today can secure a prosperous tomorrow for your small business.

Photo via Shutterstock



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