The Disruptors Business conference takes place in The Marker Hotel in Dublin’s Docklands on September 5th. We hope to see you there.

A Unicorn: “an imaginary creature usually depicted as a white horse with one long spiralled horn growing from its forehead” Collins English Dictionary Unicorn companies: “U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors”. Techcrunch

With several venture backed companies worth in excess of $10bn, what does this mean for you? Well, it means that whatever business you currently operate in is being disrupted, and they are coming after your business.

Remember we used to walk on to the street to flag a taxi or heaven forbid actually phone one. Remember we used to store information on our computers rather than in the cloud. Remember we used to send text messages that would stay on our phones so that we could read them again. The times are a-changing. Every industry is being disrupted, and it's happening quicker than ever. In 4 short years, Airbnb had more total available rooms than IHG or Hilton, the top two hotel groups in the world. Startups like HailO, Uber and Lyft are disrupting the taxi industry but in a few years, self-driving cars will disrupt the entire automobile industry again. Snapchat has over 30 million active users.

You might wonder what can you do to compete against these juggernauts? Well, the good news is that there are loads of resources at hand and clever tricks you can use. The world is becoming ultra-connected, Silicon Valley’s most famous investor Marc Andreesen predicts that there will be 7 billion smartphones in the world by the end of the decade. What does this mean? Well, with the entire world connected to the internet, potentially, everyone in the world is a customer, however you are also competing with worlds best, so expect the bar to be raised. Here are a few tools you should be using if you are serious about business remaining competitive. We will cover all ten in depth at The Disruptors conference,

Top 10 ways to avoid being disrupted 

1. Crowdfunding

Finance used to be straightforward but in recent times we have seen the lines blurring with the emergence of Angel syndicates, Micro VC’s ,full service VC firms and crowdfunfding. Crowdfunding is a particularly interesting development as it can allow you to market, sell and fundraise simultaneously.

The old paradigms of approval and permission are fading away. Entrepreneurs and creators are using the connective power of the internet and crowdfunding to ignore and circumvent traditional gatekeepers. You no longer need an agent or a publisher to finish your book. No movie studio needs to green-light your documentary. You don't need a rich venture capitalist to invest in your startup. It's easier than ever to pick yourself and ship your project to the world. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are radically changing how ideas, projects and businesses get funded and launched. Until recently, data on Crowdfunding was hard to come by. However earlier this year, The Crowd Data Center released “eFunding & The State of The Crowdfunding Nation”, a report and some of the numbers are startling.

More than $57,000 is pledged to a crowdfunding campaign somewhere in the world every hour of every day.

The five most popular categories of successful crowdfunding campaigns are gaming, technology, design, film and music.

Rewards-based campaigns on Kickstarter successfully fund 42.8 percent of the time. On Indiegogo, the success rate is 14.4 percent.

The average number of backers of a successful Kickstarter campaign is 255.

An average of 325 new crowdfunding campaigns launch every day.

2. The Lean Startup

From startups to large corporations developing new products, The Lean startup is the only game in down. If you haven’t heard of it, you really should check it out. Modeled on Steve Blanks customer development methodology, it has now gone main-stream with companies like Toyota and GE using Lean Startup methodologies.

The lean Startup has given us catchphrases like “validated learning”, “build-measure-learn feedback loop” and “the Minimum Viable Product” (MVP) and when The Harvard Business review published an article entitled “Why the Lean Start-up changes everything" , the world sat up and took notice. When The Lean Startup is used with the Business model canvas, companies can effectively drastically reduce development time around their products and business models and get to the dream scenario of “product-market fit” quicker than ever before.

3. Distributed working and freelancing

How can a company employ hundreds of people, power 20% of the worlds websites with over 14.6 billion pages viewed every month but not have any offices? Distributed working has become of the hottest work practices in the world. The aforementioned company is Automatic, the owners of WordPress and what makes them different from your standard tech company is that their entire workforce works remotely in distributed work teams. This work phenomenon is a trend for the future. Distributed work teams enable businesses to recruit the best talent from all over the world. Timezones and languages are no longer barriers to creating an effective team

With over 2,500 skills available on virtual freelancing platforms such as Odesk and elance, it is no surprise that figures in 2014 show that the worldwide freelancing market is worth $930 million.. You can now get that logo designed, that press release done and your website configured for SEO, all from the comfort of your own couch and at seriously competitive rates.

4. Social media and data driven marketing

The Harvard Business review recently published an article entitled “The rise of the chief marketing technologist” which concluded that marketing is rapidly becoming one of the most technology-dependent functions in business. A recent Accenture CMO survey determined that analytics will be a core competence in marketing. Digital will account for over 75% of the marketing budget and mobile will account for over 50% of the marketing budget in the very near future. Data driven marketing is allowing companies to get, keep and grow customers like never before. Facebook’s recent acquisition of Whattsapp means you will soon know more than ever about your customers. If you have global ambitions, or are simply defending your position, data driven marketing know-how should be a top priority for your company.

5. Have a go, fear not failure.

Samuel Beckett said “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Steve Blank, arguably the finest entrepreneurship minds of our time famously says “show me a someone who has failed and I’ll show you an entrepreneur”. Silicon valley was built on the shoulders of giants where failure is encouraged and lessons are shared. They even have an annual conference about failure (that has been syndicated around the world). This "have a go" mindset is even reflected in investor documents. Term sheets on the west coast are structured so VC”s take more of the spoils on the upside whereas back east termsheets tend to allow a VC an easy exit if he or she can can get a whiff of cordite. So the advice is: Have a go, with a caveat of, if you are going to fail, fail elegantly.

6. Scale up

Startups have never been cheaper to start but more expensive to grow. Scaling up is much harder than starting up and it takes a complete different set of skills (adopting either a ·"Catholic" or a "Buddhist" growth strategy). Ireland has lots of startups but its a big issue that not many of them mange to scale-up. The real wealth is created when a company scales. So plan ahead, create a coherent strategy that will see you past start up mode and into full scale up drive.

7. Learn from social entrepreneurs

Social entrepreneurs are the most incredible people. The really good ones actually manage to make profits and solve outrageously big social problems. So they are probably working twice as effectively as you. Ask a successful social entrepreneur out for a coffee today and you’ll probably find that they are typically connected out the wazzoo, ultra driven and have serious hustle. They are often solving problems that haven’t even presented yet. You want these people on board when your slaying that unicorn.

8. Supercharge your network

The world is becoming more and more connected and that’s great for getting customers. However, if you want to get things done, you can’t beat having a great network. Social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn have made networking easier than ever. You should be having coffee at least twice a week with people that can supercharge your network. Mark Shuster, a world famous VC argues that you should do 250 coffee meetings a year. The good news is most people will meet you for coffee and there is nothing like a one on one chat to build a relationship.

9. Create a hot team

Can you imagine entering a new market with a single entry point marketing strategy? Pursuing a profession with only one skill set? So, why are you building your business with a single-perspective management team?

A recent study from Columbia University found Individuals who view their colleagues as different than themselves focus less on getting along and more on getting to work. The top universities in the world such as Stanford insist on multi-disciplinary teams in their startups and it is no coincidence that they have a higher rate of success than their peers.

10. Get more productive

The way we work isn’t working. According to Gallup, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged with their work. They are drowning in an ocean of emails, phone calls, more emails, meetings, projects, proposals, and plans. In fact, The use of technology is one of the biggest killers in the workplace. Obviously this all effects both the bottom line and peoples job satisfaction levels. It’s time to get smarter about the way we work.

The Disruptors Business conference takes place in The Marker Hotel in Dublin’s Docklands on September 5th. We hope to see you there.