If there is one thing I am sure I have in common with Clausehound founder, Rajah Lehal, it’s that I am positive, that when starting his own company, he was told by nearly everyone he bumped into that the sector he was going after was too unique and would never change.
Like Rajah must have, I also heard similar comments along my journey. Growing up in a family business selling to Government, and then in starting my first manufacturing business, my specialization was a narrow niche, while I also implemented prevalent consumer technology in my day-to-day life, with platforms like e-Bay, Linkedin and Quickbooks.
When I started OMX, a procurement and reporting platform, the feedback that I kept getting, especially from those mostly ingrained in the every day of the sector, was that this particular sector was immune. Words of wisdom from industry experts followed me around, especially in the darker moments, reminding me to “cut my losses now”, “that this world will never change” and my favourite “I’m sure one of the big companies would hire you in a marketing role”.
It’s really important to listen very carefully to your user base, but sometimes it’s also important to not listen to everything. One of my favourite books right now, called “Originals: How non-conformists change the world”, talks a lot about the difficulties that come with, well, being original. Author Adam Grant reminds readers to “Argue like you’re right and listen like you’re wrong.”I think the hardest part about having original ideas, is that you are guaranteed to be criticized and that just isn’t a natural state for humans. I don’t care what people “claim”, we all want to be liked, and being disruptive, original, innovative, or launching something new and different will guarantee choppy waters in that respect. One of the most unfortunate parts of Grant’s book was the section that revealed how teachers react to young, original thinking students. His book found that “The least favorite students were the non-conformists who made up their own rules. Teachers tend to discriminate against highly creative students, labeling them as troublemakers.” I am positive this is training kids to stop behaving that way, if they want to be liked.
Technology is pervasive. It is everywhere. And it is changing all of our expectations for how we interact with products, brands and professional services. Yes, even legal. If we can order a cab in seconds and have a book arrive by the end of the day with the tap of a finger, then I would guess that this sector will change too, and I don’t care who doesn’t “like me” for saying it.
Nicole is a member of Founder’s Only and occasionally guest-posts here.