Disruptive startups: you’re the thing big companies fear most

You may think your startup idea is crazy, but it could be keeping established business owners up all night. According to the 2015 EMEA Crisis Survey, companies expected “new and innovative business models entering their sector” to be a disruption they will face in the next six to twelve months.

On October 20, global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller released its crisis survey, which was conducted with Enterprise and SME companies.

Over the past 12 months, the so-called innovation crisis with “disruptive innovators” placed second to “controversial company developments,” which showed startups were gaining momentum in their respective markets.

These points were further followed by logistical difficulties, online/digital failure, negative social media campaigns, and lastly regulatory scrutiny as the least frequent crisis.

Read more: Survey: South Africa’s Venture Capital industry is now worth a massive R2bn

The survey indicated that 73% of respondents have seen new market entrants or innovative business models in the last three years that could threaten success, while 21% experienced a crisis relating to new or innovative business models in the last year.

According to Burson-Marsteller’s CEO for Europe, Middle-East, Africa and global Chief Strategy Officer, Jeremy Galbraith:

The findings of our survey emphasise that we are living through a particularly disruptive era with communicators facing a perfect storm of challenges. The upturn in the global economy has seen new brands enter old markets and small innovators rapidly expand, challenging traditional brands and industries.

SMEs and Enterprise businesses have also faced problems with the rise of digital. “At the same time, the online revolution means cyber hackers can access data and armchair campaigners, so-called ‘clicktivists’, can protest from their living rooms,” adds Galbraith. He goes on to add, “And this is all set against a backdrop of a massive erosion in the trust the public places on the words and actions of big business.”

Read more: Ventureburn survey sheds light on SA’s tough, but pioneering startup industry

Galbraith says companies need to remember the four P’s of business, which are Purpose, Plan, Predict, and Pioneer. “That is, Purpose should guide business, Plan how to handle a crisis in ‘peacetime’, Predict and monitor the trends in your market and Pioneer by being innovative and bold.”

The survey was conducted by market research firm Penn Schoen Berland. It surveyed 426 online interviews from Europe, Middle East, and Africa. The criteria for respondents included people aged 25 or older, are full-time or self-employed, have final or significant decision-making power in the business or at least one department. Each sample set was evenly split between respondents from large enterprise and SME businesses.



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