Rule Breakers Rule! How to Foster Innovation

We grow up being taught and encouraged to follow the rules. Color inside the lines. Follow the crowd. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

But in business, great success can come from breaking the rules and forging a new path. It’s called innovation, and while large companies like Apple and Google are often recognized for it, small companies are innovating every day as well.

For many, innovation or rule breaking comes out of necessity, or the need to address a personal adversity or problem. This was the case for Pump Wear, Inc. When Julie DeFruscio found out that all three of her children had Type I Diabetes, she felt the need to do something to help make their lives better and more normal. The insulin pumps they were using to manage their disease were awkward and difficult to wear. So Julie decided to “break the rules” and make these life-saving medical devices fun for her children.

Julie and her best friend created a line of fun and fashionable Insulin pump cases for adults and children. Rather than live with carrying around an ugly, obvious medical device, they designed cases with photos, sports, animals and fun designs. They even designed insulin pump cases with artwork for the holidays. They knew that were on to something when Julie’s daughter came home one day from school saying her best friend wanted a case just like hers. Julie broke the rules by changing the experience of having to wear a medical device at all times – something that could have been uncomfortable, physically limiting and even stigmatizing for her children, and making it fun, fashionable and easy. Pump Wear is now being sold all over the world, and changing the lives of those living with diabetes for the better.

This month’s Fast Company issue highlights The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies. The highlighted innovations do everything from simplifying formerly complicated processes, to combining hot trends to create a whole new trend, to defying old assumptions about what can and can’t be done, to challenging the status quo.

The lesson to be learned: if you want to be an innovator, a rule breaker, a market disruptor, take a look at your marketplace, and ask yourself a few powerful questions.

  • What problem do I have that others have too, and no one else is solving?
  • What is no other company in this space doing, that people wish they would?
  • How can we deliver a product or service better, faster, more effectively?
  • If I was inventing a whole new industry, how would I do it differently than its being done now?
  • What needs are not being filled, that I have the ability to fill?
  • What assumptions can I challenge?

Perhaps you have already asked those questions and you are breaking the rules in your industry. If that’s the case, then you deserve to be recognized too. Nominations for the second annual Rule Breaker’s Awards are now open. Nominate yourself – that’s what a Rule Breaker does! Or perhaps you know a business owner who deserves this recognition. If so, you can nominate another entrepreneur. Just go to and click on “apply.” If you are rule breaking enough to be one of the winners, there are some really cool prizes from Infusionsoft, Nextiva and Sage, as well as a one year membership to the Provendus Growth Academy, which is launching later this month.

Good luck!

Donna Leyens Pumpkin Plan your BizWritten by:

Donna Leyens

1 reply
  1. Donna
    Donna says:

    I would truly appreciate it if you could share your own experiences, good or bad, with doing things differently in your business or thinking outside the box. Thanks!

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