11 Game-Changing Companies Who (Successfully) Broke The Rules.

There are rules and guidelines that limit what is possible to achieve.  Rules that we all somehow agree to. Rules about the cost of doing business. About profit, loss, and reinvestment.  Rules about possibilities. Rules dictated by shear elemental constraint.

The rules set the limits.

Science dictates certain rules.  Math and economics decide other rules.

And if we told that if we watch closely the rules teach us how to win the game.

They teach us that it "takes money to make money". That growing too fast without enough cash flow puts us at an unfair disadvantage. That not treating good employees good enough disrupts our thought leverage in the industry.

We've learned how to play by the rules.

We listen to the experts that tell us how to push and pull and tweak until we align our business interests with the rules that decide positive outcomes.  We follow the rules hoping that we end up being successful.  Hoping that the rules that worked for someone else end up working for us.

And so our businesses look alike, sound like, and fail alike.

We're all doing the same things, following the same rules, and all wondering why the rules don't seem to be working all that well.

Until someone comes along and teaches us that the rules don't really matter.

That the rules need to be broken.

And nothing is the same ever again.

  1. Zappos broke the rule that helping customers too much is wildly unprofitable.  They built a $1 billion company in less than 10 years by delivering an outrageous client experience.
  2. Craigslist broke the rule that web technologies need to look sexy.  Without any advertising or an attractive user interface and with only a handful of people they booked hundreds of millions of dollars by providing simple functions that users really want.
  3. Nike broke the rule that selling athletic equipment was about the sport.  They built a brand backed by celebrities and world-famous champions that inspires fierce loyalty by athletes of all skill-level.
  4. Ford Motors broke the rule that you needed a government bailout to stay competitive in the automotive industry.  They added $18.4 billion in sales over two years by cutting waste and refocusing their spending habits.
  5. Walmart broke the rule that consumers can't be bought with cheaper prices.  They introduced radically discounted goods and quickly generated trillions of dollars of revenue through 9,000 stores all over the world.
  6. Netflix broke the rule that consumers only wanted to rent the latest movies from a store down the street.  They created a multi-billion dollar industry of renting mostly older movies on laptops and living room set-top boxes.
  7. Amazon.com broke the rule that books were meant to be read in hard copy -- that groceries and electronics couldn't be sold from the same website.  They generate more online book business than all other online retailers combined and generate tens of billions of dollars in revenue for other sales.
  8. YouTube broke the rule that video was meant for the television screen.  They taught friends how to easily share memorable experiences and sold their platform for almsot $2 billion in less than a year. Their website still continues to be one of the most popular online destinations of all time.
  9. ING Direct broke the rule that banking customers need easy assess to ATM machine and branch offices to invest their money.  They made online banking an attractive option and radically altered how consumers save money -- all the while building a billion dollar franchise.
  10. Dell Computers broke the rule the consumers wanted to buy their electronics from a retail store.  They removed the middle man and became the largest manufacturer of personal computers, creating one of the largest consumer e-commerce sites on the web.
  11. IKEA broke the rule that do-it-yourself furniture couldn't be stylish yet inexpensive.  Today, they offer 12,000 products, employ 127,000 workers, and help 450 million consumers find the perfect piece of furniture for their home.  You might call it a pretty big success.

Let's be candid.  There were rules before these companies came along.  Lots of them.

And a lot of competitors to these companies thought they needed to play by them.

They weren't ready to go "all in" and break the rules.  They were convinced that playing by the rules was the better choice.

But the rules were wrong.

The rules were holding them back from being amazing.

It took bold leaders to see this and build a strategy to successfully break the rules.

It took leaders who could look past fear and failure and the disapproval of the crowd and dare to be amazing.

That leader could be you.

Are you ready to break the rules?