Stuck? 5 ways entrepreneurs can gain a fresh perspective
23 October 2014
Posted by: Author: Steve Sponseller
Author: Steve Sponseller (Entrepreneur Magazine)
Innovation is important to entrepreneurs,
whether they are starting a new venture or expanding an existing business, as a
new or improved product can provide a competitive edge.
Innovations may include a completely new
product or improving an existing one that provides a more valuable experience
for the consumer. The new or improved product can provide a competitive edge
that makes the business stand out from the crowd. Innovative ideas are valuable
to entrepreneurs in all industries and for businesses of all sizes.
Yet many entrepreneurs do not fully utilise
innovation or understand how to ignite it, causing them to miss out on
potential ideas that could have a significant impact on the success of their
For those struggling, here are five ways
entrepreneurs can start identifying innovative ideas that can rapidly
accelerate their business.
1. Recognise innovation
Many innovations are developed to solve
problems or enhance existing products or services. To determine what needs to
be disrupted, develop a habit of noticing problems in your own business, your
competitors’ businesses and in your entire industry. If your customers are not
satisfied with your existing products, you have an opportunity for innovation.
Use these problems as "seeds” for brainstorming innovative ideas.
Similarly, industry-wide challenges and
problems with competing products provide wonderful innovation opportunities. If
you can solve an industry-wide issue, your business will enjoy a strong
competitive advantage. Consider every problem or complaint as a great chance to
develop an innovative solution.
2. Find inspiration outside
your own industry
When searching for a creative way to solve
a problem, look for similar situations in other industries. Seth Godin states,
"Innovation is often the act of taking something that worked over there and
using it over here.” Study those similar problems, analyse the solution in the
other industry and consider how to apply a similar solution to your own
For example, Henry Ford is not credited
with inventing the car nor did he invent the assembly line. Instead, he changed
the way cars were built by using a moving assembly line. Where did Henry Ford
get the idea for a moving assembly line? From a completely different industry:
The meat processing industry. Ford applied a process (the moving assembly line)
from a different industry to manufacture automobiles. If he had limited his
thinking to his own industry, he might not have developed such a revolutionary
process for manufacturing cars.
3. Discover your innovation
To develop innovative ideas for your
business, you must find your own "innovation environment” that stimulates
creative thinking. By intentionally placing yourself in your unique
environment, you increase the chances of developing valuable innovations that
will expand your business.
To identify your best innovation
environment, make note of the time, location, activity and environmental
conditions present when you develop new ideas. By keeping track of this
information, you will soon see a pattern develop. Use this pattern to define
your personal innovation environment, and visit this environment during your
brainstorming sessions to maximise results.
4. Schedule frequent
Entrepreneurs have busy schedules and many
commitments. To successfully identify and apply innovative ideas, entrepreneurs
must block time in their calendar for individual or group innovation sessions.
These time blocks should be uninterrupted
and focused on only one or two innovation opportunities. If possible, visit
your innovation environment during the scheduled time. If you cannot visit your
environment, visualise yourself in that environment to best stimulate your
5. Involve your entire team.
Entrepreneurs often try to do everything
themselves but several minds working together can frequently create better
innovations. Every individual has unique talents, experiences and ideas.
Limiting your innovation activities to just
a few people can often result in a failure to identify valuable ideas that can
be leveraged to accelerate business growth. Let your entire team help identify
ideas and generate potential solutions for any number of innovation
opportunities. Developing an innovation culture will produce valuable ideas
while fostering a team environment within the organisation.
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