Disruption is a state of mind. Three reasons why startups prevail in imposing change.

Entrepreneurs have a few traits, which make them see and interpret things differently, derive creative solutions from it, and finally win the innovations game. Here are three traits which show you why this is important for media companies and publishers, as well as for every other industry that wants to do the transition to the digital world.

1. Entrepreneurs always question the status quo

Where everyone else sees how things are, entrepreneurs see how they could be.

Many things, of course, are simply entirely beyond anyone’s range of influence, and therefore will remain as they are – unchanged. But whenever there is something challenging him, an entrepreneur will take it on – as long as it comes at the right time, e.g. when he is bored or not satisfied with his current task. This is the moment when an idea starts germinating in his mind. This is when his mind starts spinning around a new product, a new concept of something entirely new.

Try it out yourself. Next time when something bothers you, ask yourself how it can be changed. Make wondering and questioning a habit. Whenever you see situations or things which are not optimal, question them.

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2. Entrepreneurs seek freedom, not safety

Most people seem to have a built-in tendency of spending most of their money, especially when they get a sudden access to money, e.g. a bonus payment or an inheritance or a (rare) tax refund. Most people spend this money by investing it in fashion, plenty of gadgets, luxury objects, cars, or in a flat or a house. They trade money for material dependencies and strengthen their comfort zone.

By not giving in to this (or at least not too soon), you gain freedom. And freedom helps you to keep an open mind, to remain alert – it keeps you awake. You need this state of mind if you want to see what remains unseen to others. Otherwise you simply don’t have a choice and just have to make sure your investment remains safe.

Entrepreneurs value freedom over material assets and this enables them to jump at opportunities when they see them.

When I left DELUXE MUSIC, some time after selling a part of my shares to investors, my girlfriend said: ”you know, when men have some money set aside, they build houses, buy flats, build a nest … but I guess you’ll rather start something new and finance that, right?“ So I did – I went out and started LaterPay. It didn’t keep us from building a nest in a rented apartment.

3. Entrepreneurs have a built-in noise cancellation mechanism for doubters and naysayers

Almost every new idea encounters resistance when first discussed with friends, family or colleagues. The risk of being rejected or ridiculed has to be taken for granted, simply because it is most likely that people surrounding you don’t get the idea immediately. A new product or a service needs to be explained from different angles until the concept sinks in. Words, tag lines, benefits need to be defined first.

When discussing their idea, entrepreneurs have the ability to selectively tune out resistance and early doubts; they filter out what obstructs them and will only process the information that helps them, not what would discourage them. They follow their inner compass and walk the narrow path from idea to product.

If you live in Europe and not in the US, and if you have an idea that could make a difference or has the potential to induce change, it is even advisable not to talk about it too early.

Building self-confidence related to this idea is the more relevant first step. Once you start discussing your idea, people surrounding you will challenge you, but they will have a hard time getting you off the track. If you aren’t mentally ready, they will kill your idea in its earliest stage.

The entrepreneurial culture in the U.S. on the other hand encourages you to develop your ideas and it fosters creativity, while in Europe the culture forces you to fight for your idea from the very beginning.

Did you ever have an idea, but never got if off the idea stage? Did you ever have an idea which never made it beyond the stage of the first discussion with friends? If yes, check how many of the three traits mentioned earlier were involved.

Live by principles – develop (potentially disruptive) ideas

Questioning the status quo and seeking freedom instead of safety are just two out of several principles embraced by entrepreneurs. Combined with the ability to filter out the negative noise around a new idea, they help entrepreneurs to develop an open mind. This is what you need in order to create something new that will induce change and eventually lead to disruption.

Entrepreneurs do not make concessions to lethargy. They have a strong conviction about their ideas and concepts, combine this with knowledge and evade inertia of living a traditional life of accepting things how they are.

Of course, no matter how much someone wishes to be truly disruptive, only future development will show whether you have induced change which leads to some improvement in a market, or whether you have disrupted a market.

This leads to my personal conclusion that disruption is a state of mind. You need to be awake, questioning and free in order to hear the music long before others do.