It’s been a year of adaptation and pivoting. Whereas many industries have been chugging along at their usual pace, continuing to bring in profits and ideate on new products, there’s never been a year that has seen more of a revolution across all industries as 2020. Some businesses predicted a change like this was coming one way or another, and some held tight to their more antiquated ways of doing business, unable to transition to online. Some big box stores did not have the existing infrastructure to handle the social distancing regulations when the pandemic hit.
There’s never been a better time to create a brand new business model to totally disrupt your industry. Whether we like it or not, the pandemic has shifted our ways of working and living and these new trends won’t be replaced soon. And yes, just about any business model or type of industry can be revolutionized in some way, if you dare to think big enough and beyond the typical parameters of how you’ve done business before.
I sat down with Diliara Lupenko, who along with her husband, Vladimir, are co-founders of the orthodontics app Impress, which aims to revolutionize the dental care industry via virtual invisible aligner appointments and progress tracking. They created this service pre-pandemic, so we talked about how they foresaw the changing winds to virtual, and how she recommends other entrepreneurs look for similar opportunities.
Be On The Lookout For Trends
To truly be on the ‘cutting edge,’ it’s important to note that you can’t be a follower. Looking out for trends doesn’t (always) mean looking at what others in the space are starting to do. “We simply noticed that there was a gap in what consumers needed,” Lupenko explained. “Before Impress, a patient had a choice between very conservative technology-adverse ortho practices or a DTC player who was only focused on the esthetic treatment.”
They sought to bridge that gap: bringing both the medical background (as their co-founder and chief orthodontist Dr. Kasem has over 15 years of experience and has treated thousands of patients) and the ease and flexibility of getting treatments done.
“Providing both constant digital care and the in-person clinic options is unique and makes our treatment safe for simple and complex cases alike. You have the convenience and flexibility of digital but you also have local clinics; so that if ever you do need to see us in person for the best outcome, we are available to you,” explained Lupenko. “This is how you give consumers the best of both worlds, which always gives you a competitive edge in an industry. It isn’t ‘this or that.’ It’s ‘this AND that.’”
Based on this reasoning, look for ways that you can minimize choices for your target customer. Is there an existing gap between the main competitors in your category? How can you bridge the old, proven models that work with a new twist that provides some further convenience or ease?
Seek To Provide Better Service
It seems that the businesses who already had some remote or tele-health geared service options had a crystal ball that the rest of the world didn’t. But Lupenko says these trends toward online offerings were happening before the pandemic simply because it provided a better service to the customer. “Although COVID-19 may have put digitalizing medicine at the center of the conversation, we have been focused on putting technology at the forefront of our treatment from the beginning. We truly believe that technology can help us to better control a patient’s progress and also help us to deliver better results in the long term,” she explained.
“We know that technology and mobile phones are a part of connecting with customers and having meaningful digital experiences in the modern age. Our experience is that when patients feel supported and taken care of, the outcome is better.” Whether you know that your business has room to grow with technology or you’re just looking for more ways to revolutionize, ask yourself the question: how can you make your customers feel more supported and more in control?
Business Is About Making Others’ Lives Easier
I asked Lupenko how other entrepreneurs can heed her advice and find their own approach to groundbreaking offerings. “We always try to center conversations around what will make life easier for the patients. Our approach as a team is to challenge ourselves. We aren’t afraid to ask questions and constantly look to solve problems- and fast. That means creating an environment that is solutions driven. To do that you can’t be afraid to go deep when you see an opportunity to solve problems for your patients. When you can put yourself in their shoes it’s easy to work hard to constantly make things better.”
What Lupenko is getting at is a long-held business truth: creating truly great products or offering truly great services is all about empathy. What are the pain points of those you are serving? How can you meet them further where they are, so that the convenience of working with you is unparalleled?
Customers will always choose what makes them feel safe, taken care of, and make their lives easier because of it. Consider this as you begin to forge new business models this year, and moving forward.