Zig when everyone else zags: Meet the SMEs going against the grain

Some of the most successful small business owners are the ones disrupting the status quo and going against the grain.

Noticing a gap in the market is one thing. But finding a way to fill it with a service that shapes the education of Australian school children is another matter entirely.

Small businesses can be hugely successful when they notice a gap in the market.

Meet Simone Kain, who became deeply concerned about the lack of knowledge among Australian children about where food and fibre (such as cotton and wool) comes from.

Research revealed that 75% of year 6 and 10 students believed that cotton socks were an animal product, and believed that yoghurt grew on trees! At the same time, Australian kids and teens were spending far more time online.

While the education problem was huge, Kain didn’t shy away from it, instead making a conscious decision to dive in to find a way to resolve the problem. She created a digital character to educate her son and other children across the country about typical Australian farming life.

“The only digital content I could find to teach my young son about farming in Australia used either American or British terminology to explain life on the farm. There just weren’t any characters telling stories about life on the land in Australia,” Kain says.

Kain worked closely with the government developing resources for the national curriculum around farming and agriculture. “The key element here is about making it fun for George the Farmer to play a role in educating children. I’m really passionate about the importance of this message.”

George the Farmer was born three years ago, and has been teaching children where their food comes from, about wheat crops, sheering sheep or other core farming practices.

And now, this inspiring app sets the pace on agricultural education in Australia.

The business has expanded significantly to include a range of picture books, music, toys, videos, curriculum-aligned teachers’ guides and is performing strong financially - there’s even a television show in the pipeline. Kain has also won awards for her work.

Failure not an option

There are plenty of extraordinary small businesses borne out of passion that challenge the status quo, just like George the Farmer. For these disrupters, failure isn’t an option. Their aim is to forge a completely new path, and go against the grain.

Business owners are advised to call on their network.

However, running a start-up business can be challenging. Business owners are advised to call on their networks and consider things like insurance cover carefully.

Business insurance, for example, can enable you to focus on your business's dreams, safe in the knowledge that there’s a strategy in place to protect you and your assets from unexpected setbacks.

Another important consideration for small business disrupters is Income protection, (also known as salary continuance), which can help mitigate the risks involved in chasing your dreams.

Income protection insurance is designed to replace a portion of the insured’s income (normally 75 per cent) in the event of being unable to work due to sickness or injury. This is essential for anyone who relies on their salary to meet financial obligation and commitments. Benefit periods can be from two years, or they can be paid up to age 70. Premiums paid for Income Protection insurance are usually tax deductible.

A Steadfast insurance broker can tailor all kinds of insurance policies to suit your business model.

How to zig when everyone else zags

This opportunity to shape, or even disrupt an industry provides huge opportunities for SMEs. However, a survey by SmartCompany has found that SMEs list the internet, artificial intelligence and big data as trends most likely to disrupt their business in the next decade.

Tim Fung, co-founder of AirTasker says those going against the status quo should be celebrated, as they’re the ones driving our society forward toward change for the better.

After struggling to find someone to help him move apartments, Fung saw an opportunity in the market. Together with Jono Lui, they created Airtasker - an online marketplace for people to outsource tasks. Fung is now working to make his company a household name after closing a $22 million Series B investment in the business, led by Seven West Media.

“Disrupters are the ones out there dreaming up the best possible way to solve a problem from a customer perspective, and then finding a way to do it. They’re living and breathing their startup, and constantly looking at how they can do things better,” Fung says.

“True disrupters are the ones out there trying to make life easier for everyone else with their new product or service. They’re literally changing the status quo, and that’s not always an easy path to take,” he says.

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