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The word ‘rebel’ can conjure up many things. Some images may be great, like all the business visionaries of our time, or they can be bad like groups engaging in violent conflict. In the world of business a rebel can be something amazing. A rebel comes up with products nobody else had even thought about imagining. A rebel flips the lid on how a workplace should and can be run, while still being productive. A rebel slaps down all those standing in their way, mocking their methods, and gives the world something to talk about. Although carrying around the title of business rebel can also come at a steep price. Rebels can be ousted from companies or have their reputations ruined. Rebels can fail – hard. So with all the extra weight a business rebel carries around the one question can be asked: Is being a rebel in business a smart choice? Below are the opinions of some entrepreneurs on the subject.
Yes – it is smart
As with many entrepreneurs, hearing the word “no” or the phrases “that cannot be done” and “that is not how it is done” fuels my personal drive and sense of accomplishment as well as SheerID’s culture and achievements. In the early days of SheerID, the founding team of three lived to mantra “go big or go home.” Despite friends, family, advisors, articles, and experience telling us that you need to start tiny, prove concepts with a handful of small, early beta customers or partners, gather letters of intent and soft commitments from larger companies, and generally take a slow and wimpy approach to starting something, we turned that approach upside down. We called from our living rooms on the global leaders of retail, established early traction through long-term, exclusive contracts with some of the biggest companies in the world, and left the smaller prospects off of our early-stage target list. We convinced government agencies and huge data aggregators that our model would create incremental revenue from assets they had already built and were actively maintaining for other purposes. With game-changing, exclusive data provider partnerships, and a couple of global retail clients, we raised our first round, did not create multiple classes of stock, and gave away very little of the company in trade for tremendous value in the form of capital itself, but also the group of advisors and areas of expertise the investors represented. We proved that in Eugene, Oregon, there are super angels who will support a start-up with an innovative model, solid traction, and a plan for growth.
Thanks to Jake Weatherly, SheerID
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Definitely. Rebels go down in history and change the world because they think and act differently than the norm. I own a tech startup, so the word “disruptive” is used a lot. Disruptive typically has a negative connotation as in “Carrie, quit disrupting the class,” but it’s about breaking through the clutter, building something bigger and better, and being just insane enough to pull it off successfully. Entrepreneurs are rebels every day. They have the vision, drive, passion, and mentality to take risks and not give up. Rebels are the revolutionary leaders that have inspired others and changed the world through history. Be a rebel with a cause, build a business that changes people’s lives, and challenge others to think differently.
Thanks to Carrie Layne, BestBuzz.Bz
Be a smart rebel
I’d say it’s smart to be a smart rebel in business and it’s dumb to just rebel for the sake of being different. If all of your competitors are doing the same thing in the same way and they’re all succeeding, then they’re probably doing a lot of things right. Thumbing your nose at that just to be different is probably not going to get you far, beyond maybe making a splash and causing some buzz while your business tanks and your competition thrives. No one wants that. A smart rebel takes a minute to look at what everyone else is doing right, appreciates it, and then figures out if there’s a way to do that same right thing, only better.
Thanks to Andrew Swedenborg, King Retail Solutions
Why be the same…
Why be the same as every body else? It’s cool to be smart, to be unique and to stand out. Swimming upstream, you are that tall tree that catches the wind, but people will notice you. I have a unique product – pepper grinders made from reclaimed teak in Northern Thailand, with my own unique design and I fill them with rock salt or Kampot pepper from Cambodia. I’m the only one to do this, I stand out, I have no competition. To conform is the norm in Asia. Row after row of the same shop selling the same thing at the same price. I honestly don’t know how they can make a living that way.
Thanks to Andre Park, TeakMills
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Look at your reasoning
Rebelling can be view as either extremely smart way of doing business or extremely dumb depending on what your reasoning for doing it. If you are rebelling because you are bored, you will have the same consequences as most teenagers get– not good ones. If you rebel because you are sick of the way people are doing business wrong and you feel strongly about doing things different you can achieve huge rewards and might just give you the you need to dominate the business world.
Thanks to Lisa J Peck, Step It Up Enterprises
Sometimes you just have to
In 2011 my family and I launched Mi Casa Tequila to great fan fare in San Francisco. I had no guide book on how to run a spirits company but quickly learned that the industry is one built on personalities and relationships. Being someone of great faith and a father I always act from a place in my heart that at times has been contrary to business norms. Where some people like to confine their products to pretty little stories, I’ve always been very open about mine. I was a drug addicted teen who pulled himself together and worked hard to rebuild tarnished relationships within my own household. In time we went from strangers to a strong family unit and by consequence started a journey together that could have never been possible before, resulting in Mi Casa Tequila. Earlier this year someone asked me to tell them the Mi Casa story and I told them about all the hardships it took to finally become what we are today and the interviewer told me in a very kind way that she doesn’t ‘write those kinds of stories’ she writes ‘happier, lighter’ things. I laughed. Isn’t it time for some truth?
Thanks to Arthur Rodriguez, Mi Casa Tequila
You have to be committed to being a rebel
Being a rebel in business is challenging, especially when starting out. If what you’re selling is new or pushing boundaries being a rebel can be vital. Being bold enough to be different and go against the grain sets you apart from the people around you and can bring attention you might not get by toeing the line. It has to be part of what you’re doing though, if you aren’t committed to being different with the way you work then being a rebel can backfire.
Thanks to Andrew Snell, Coaster Group
Natural for entrepreneurs
They are movers and shakers that try to change things despite the risks, and perhaps with an irrational belief in their ability to conquer anything in their path. Any entrepreneur who isn’t rebelling against something and trying to change it, probably isn’t changing much…
Thanks to Will Mitchell, StartupBros
A useful and dangerous tool
I found a definition of to rebel: – “a person who resists any authority, control, or tradition”. It strikes me that this suggests it to be both a useful – and a dangerous – business tool. No organization is going to thrive when populated by individuals who are out-of-control; or who resist all authority. That’s the plot-line for a movie. However, being resistant to “tradition” and “the way we’ve always done it” is what adds innovation and creativity to any business operation.
Thanks to Gordon Veniard
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