Setting up and running a business is about more than having one good idea. To be successful over a sustained period, you need to be coming up with good ideas all the time – and to be encouraging the people you work alongside to do the same.
Henry Ford was not only the founder of the Ford Motor Company; throughout his life, he was constantly thinking of new innovations to make his business even better. Ford once said: ‘The air is full of ideas. They are knocking you in the head all the time. You only have to know what you want’ – a quotation that is as meaningful today as it was in the late 19th century.
1. Make innovation part of your business culture
People sometimes claim that they’re ‘not an ideas person’ or see innovation as a difficult process. Instead of placing it in a silo, either for someone else to worry about or to be conveniently forgotten, innovation needs investment – in time, space and resources. By making time for innovation, building it into the fabric of your business and gaining support from regular business coaching or mentoring, you will become more skilful at dreaming up the ideas that will go on to help your enterprise flourish.
2. Ideas can come from anywhere
The germ of an idea could come from a comment made by a client or a suggestion from a supplier. It could be something you heard on the news, or a social media post. If something strikes you as curious or interesting, how might you turn it into an opportunity?
Albert Einstein said he got his best ideas while shaving. Time away from your business allows you the space to think so make sure that you are taking those all-important breaks. Who knows what ideas will come to you when you are out for a run, walking the dog or even doing the weekly shop!
3. It’s OK to fail
Failure is part of the learning process. Innovation inevitably carries risk but you will never move your business forward unless you’re willing to push the boundaries. If it takes half a dozen failures before you arrive at the solution that works, most entrepreneurs would claim that to be a success overall.
Linus Pauling, the American Nobel prize-winning biochemist and author, claimed that ‘the best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas’. Oscar Wilde went further saying: ‘An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.’
4. Get to the nitty-gritty
Don’t tackle the easy questions first – tackle the hard ones. Then you will have a much clearer sense of the true viability of your project. And if that means failure, at least you will fail fast. It can be tempting to skirt around the edges of difficult issues and convince yourself that they can be resolved further into the process. If these issues prove to be fundamental, you will simply have wasted time, money and emotional energy.
Sympathetic business coaching, either one-to-one or as part of a small group, can play a major role in helping you to avoid being blinded by the seeming brilliance of your idea and failing to address the realities.
5. Test and test again
It would be wonderful to wait until your enterprise is perfect in every respect before launching to the world amid great fanfare. That’s a big risk. At a much earlier stage, you need objective responses from those who haven’t made the same emotional investment. Like the novelist who asks for honest opinions long before sending the manuscript to their publisher, a rough functional prototype will give you important answers and, almost certainly, make the final product that much better.
At Delphinium Business Services we can help business owners and those looking to start a business build innovation and ideas generation into their everyday thinking. If you would like to discuss how we can help you in these areas of business development, and many more, contact us today to arrange your free initial consultation.