I think most business people and entrepreneurs think that "innovation" means that you have to create something. That is not true. You can innovate the way you do things too.
We are innovative human beings at heart, we are innovating all the time, without even realising that we are. In our daily lives, we are thinking of better ways of doing things, or acknowledging that someone else's innovation is of value and we buy into that innovation.
We do our dishes and say to ourselves, I wish there was ...this ... or that... as it would make our lives easier. Without realising it, we are delving into the realm of innovation.
TO DO! EXERCISE
Do a walk around your house and make a list of all the things you could change, that would make your life better. The chances are, other people are facing the same challenges.
Do the same when you go to the shopping mall.
Analyse your list.. there will be some impractical ideas, some ideas that would cost too much to implement or have barriers of entry and then some ideas that are so completely doable.
Rate your doable ideas, it would be really awesome if you are reading this if we could share our lists and rate our ideas just as a fun exercise.
Innovation is not only for start ups but for any business. It all starts with a plan.
The first step is to find a market. Oftentimes, when we are in this phase we land up in a completely different place where we started out, or expected to be. For this reason it is very important to have an open mind in this phase.
The second step is to have sound financial focus. This entails having the right focus. It is not only about trying to maximise profits but ensuring that funds are available for expansion or survival for unexpected eventualities.
The third step is to build the best management team and as quickly as possible. This should be done before the business gets too big for one person to handle.
Being the first to enter a market yields huge advantages. It assists a new entrepreneur market share. In order to effectively do this you need to have a good strategy.
If you can't be first you can still achieve huge success by exploiting the market gaps your competitors have missed or didn't think were worth the time.
There are two ways in which to do this, Creative Imitation and Entrepreneurial Judo.
Creative imitation is where an entrepreneur imitates a pre existing idea but executes it in a way that is more appealing to customers (creatively).
Entrepreneurial Judo is really what is says, and a more aggressive approach where you hit your competitors weak spots. A good way of doing this is by diminishing a companies arrogance since most companies with decent market share are arrogant to some degree.
Another way of finding an innovative gap is by serving a niche market. This is a vast topic and will be the subject of another blog.
Or, an entrepreneur can reach success by creating an increased demand for an existing product.
One way to do this is to take an established product and improve it to further satisfy a customers needs. With this strategy you don't change the product itself, instead you find a more appealing way of bringing it closer to what the customer wants.
Another way is to bring something new to an old product by following a pricing strategy. This strategy focuses not on the cost of the product but on what people are willing to pay.
Some final takeaways, being an entrepreneur means that you need to be aware of your opportunities and the opportunities your rivals give you. This demands not only a focused approach but a strategic one.
To be a successful entrepreneur you need to be customer centric externally and employee centric internally and realise that your products, goods and / or services are the means to meet customers needs.
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