Are you a pioneer of your industry, or do you just settle in after everyone else?

I attended a conference recently and someone made the comment: “Pioneers take the most arrows but also get the best land.”

This really made me think; we all believe that we are different, but do we risk what it takes to be a true pioneer? What is the right approach to marketing and business? How can we know? How would our businesses look if we did?

When marketing our businesses, we have the option to either “define our industry or be defined BY our industry.” While this—for many—is marketing 101, whenever I ask someone the difference between them and their competitors, 99% of them say “Our service.” My bet is that if I asked all of their competitors, they’d pretty much all say the same.

The fact is that in today’s economy we all work diligently to ensure a great customer experience. We have wins and losses, but at the end of the day, more clients are generally happy with us than dissatisfied.

I have found that in our business, being a true pioneer means doing things differently. This means different approaches to selling, servicing clients, invoicing procedures, project management, communication, and promotion of our clients.

At goBRANDgo!, we have a core philosophy of “Failing Forward.” This philosophy means that we always try and push the envelope by trying and testing new procedures, ideas, and methodologies. We have found or success in this philosophy to range from utter failure to redefinition of market best practices. This redefinition of best practices makes us a pioneer. Many times, however, we don’t see what we’re doing as pioneering until we have had the opportunity to fail, tweak, and try again.

Pioneers have to take risks. This means you have to try things that may not work. You may upset customers, lose money, fail…but failing forward allows us to find the small nuances of marketing that define us and to define the market place differently than others around us.

The settler lets others define best practices and just follows behind, keeps their head down and grows slowly. This mentality is fine for a lot of business people because with low risk tolerance. I have found that these companies are not innovators or leaders, but rather followers and gatherers. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against these people, I just don’t want to be one. I guess I never really liked playing by other people’s rules.

How do you approach the marketplace. Are you a true innovator—a Pioneer? Or do you want to be a Pioneer, but can’t bring yourself to take the risks needed? I will challenge you that true growth, learning, and market dominance can only happen when we let go of our fears and push to fail forward.