10/28/2013 10:42 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Playing It Safe No Longer Works for Today's Business

Inbound Marketing is about connecting with people and exchanging valuable information. People aren't looking for the next mass produced item. Mass produced items are easily replaceable. You need to bring value! What's unique about what you bring to the table?

Recently, I read Seth Godin's The Icarus Deception. We've all heard the story of what happened when Icarus flew too close to the sun. But, the part about what happens when Icarus flew too close to the sea seems to have been forgotten. In order to survive in today's economy, you need to break out of the mold and stand out.

Pick Yourself And Trust Yourself. Don't wait for someone to tell you what to do. It's risky to have an original idea because you ultimately own the outcome. It's much easier to hide behind a proven solution and play it safe by doing what has already been done. In this new economy, the status quo no longer works. The status quo gets left behind. It's worse to miss out on the opportunity to be part of something that can truly make a difference. Ask any small business owner and chances are they'll tell you countless stories of challenges they faced as they started out. Even Walt Disney himself was fired by a newspaper editor because "he lacked imagination and had no good ideas." (Source:

It's Not Enough To Have An Idea -- You Have To Act On It. It's easy to be lulled into the belief that blindly following the orders of others will keep you safely employed. It's not possible to survive without continuously moving forward. That means having the commitment to see your idea through to the end. No one feels the same sense of commitment to your idea as you do. One recent report I read showed that twice as many successful entrepreneurs are aged over 50 as under 25.

You Make Connections With People By Sharing Your Ideas With Them. It takes guts to share your ideas with others because people may not like them and they might not work. There's always the chance of failure, but without trying you'll never know. Build your network so you create a culture that openly shares and supports each other's ideas. There are many networking opportunities available both online and in your local community. One free resource available is They offer mentorships and free business tools and tips.

Make Sure Your Message Stands Out. Average doesn't work anymore. With the number of marketing messages and channels available to communicate to people, you need to not only have something unique to say but find a way to stand out so it gets noticed. A message created for the masses gets lost. The more relevant the message is to the audience the greater the chance of it getting noticed. If you're sending an email promoting a new software application, think about what appeals to your various customers. You'll want to tailor your message to a plumber differently than your message to a lawyer to show that you understand the issues they face in their particular business.

Chart Your Own Course. There's no easy path, but chances are that if an idea appeals to you there are others that it appeals to as well. The challenge is to find those people!

Companies that succeed in breaking out of the mold risk failure along the way. Nike transformed itself from apparel to the digital world in 2012 with its FuelBand. The FuelBand is an electronic bracelet that measures your movements throughout the day. The FuelBand gives athletes a way to connect with other users and with their friends and families by using social media to cheer them on. They did it through a culture of experimentation and quite a few failures along the way.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.