Of all the qualities that entrepreneurs possess one you will always seen in varying degrees is the ability to be innovative. You will see entrepreneurs:
o coming up against a problem and actively deciding to find a solution to solve it
o subconsciously struggling with one of lives irritations only to have a ‘eureka’ moment when a better way suddenly strikes them
o using a service or product everyday and starting a business by adding a slight twist to make it even better than before
You may look upon these innovators with a feeling of envy but don’t despair, there is no reason why you cannot be an innovative entrepreneur! Not convinced? Here are some steps you can take to fuel your innovativeness.
You cannot be innovative unless you are curious about life, about what happens around you. Resolve to start looking at your experiences differently. Constantly questions things that happen to you. Why did it happen that like that? What would need to be done if I wanted a different outcome? What would that outcome be? How could that outcome be achieved?
Open up your eyes and your mind and start being curious.
Be Open to New Ideas
Being open to new ideas means putting yourself in situations where you can receive stimulation. You may not be seeking inspiration or a solution to problems but make sure you are regularly mixing with other business owners. Get into networking groups; seek out people who can give you fresh insights even if they are not within your sector or industry; read magazines and journals which are unrelated to your business.
Be Just Plain Weird!
Innovation rarely happens if you act within accepted norms. Deciding that something can’t be done because it has never been done will not win you any prizes. Being innovative means being prepared to act against accepted or conventional wisdom; being prepared to challenge the unchallengeable is the way innovators succeed. In a nutshell … go against the crowd and be weird
Innovative ideas can strike at any time of the day or night or in any place. Don’t assume that ideas will pop up when you are sitting at your desk. As we saw in the previous point y their very nature innovative ideas are weird so expect them to surface in weird places! To capture them before they fall into the recesses of your mind always carry a notebook, Dictaphone, or PDA.
However outlandish the idea may seem write it down and resolve to look at it when you are in your most innovative frame of mind!
Being innovative means being persistent. Whilst you may find a solution to your problem immediately but it very rarely happens that way. Solutions are out there, it just how long you are prepared to wait for them to appear.
Be Willing to Share
Whilst an innovative idea can strike and you can immediately take action invariably it takes someone else to fill in the missing pieces. Don’t stumble around in the dark; find someone you can trust, someone who has the qualifications necessary to help move your idea forward.
Innovation in Action
One great example of innovation in action was the development of the Post-It Note – its evolution demonstrates the key principles of innovation. In 1968 Dr Spence Silver when working for 3M was researching new versions of adhesives. He came up with one was slightly sticky but not sufficient to bind itself to anything. He knew it was unusual but could not find an immediate use for it.
It wasn’t until 1973 that having shared the concept with another person it went to the next level. His partner within the company, Geoff Nicholson championed it as a way of sticking items on notice boards but the idea still didn’t capture anyone’s imagination.
Finally another 3M employee, Art Fry, upon seeing one of the many presentations began to see the light. He also saw something in the product but like everyone else was struggling to make the final leap. His ‘eureka’ moment came when he became frustrated at how the bookmarks for his hymn book kept falling out – the unstickable adhesive had finally found its purpose!
See how the development of the Post-It Note fits in with the principles of innovation – curiosity; persistence; sharing the discovery; preparing to accept the plain weird (glue that doesn’t stick??). It’s all there in the development of this simple yet highly useful product.
Innovative ideas do not have to be the preserve of the lucky few. You too can come up with weird ideas if you let yourself!
Small Business Success