The problem with innovation.
The words “innovation” and “entrepreneur” get thrown around haphazardly. So much so, they’ve started to lose their meaning which, to be honest, was ambiguous to begin with.
Being an innovative entrepreneur sounds glamorous, especially when you consider the names attached to that title: Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Arianna Huffington. But, here’s the thing—the list isn’t long. Compared to the world’s population, there are very few truly innovative entrepreneurs.
Why is that? Some would argue there are a “chosen” few who truly have the talent to do that, but I know better. I’ve worked with everyone from high school students to high-level executives, so I can tell you with confidence there is no lack of talent or ideas. In fact, everyone has a good idea. Everyone is talented in some way.
Why then, are there so few who truly innovate? So few who are truly entrepreneurs?
Ultimately, it’s a lack of research and follow-through. Everyone gets blinded by shiny ideas, but no one takes the time to truly formulate them.
How to overcome the entrepreneurial trap.
According to the SBA, half of all new businesses fail in the first 5 years. It’s rarely because the idea the business was built on is bad—most likely, the idea wasn’t fully formulated.
Formulating your idea is the first step in innovation for successful entrepreneurs.
It might sound simple, but it’s easily the most glossed over step in the entrepreneurial process. Here’s how it typically goes:
- There’s a problem.
- You have an idea that can solve it.
Formulate your idea. Research at the market and community level.
based on results.
#3 + #4 gets skipped entirely and key parts of the rest are ignored. I recently read a report that never once mentioned the word “research”. Nowhere in this report seeking to solve the problem of female empowerment was there a prospect of research anywhere, much less in the community the problem existed.
Having a great idea is exciting, so it’s easy to get swept up in all the to-dos and forget the foundational steps.
The best way to overcome the entrepreneurial trap is to slow down and take each step seriously, starting with formulating your idea.
How to formulate your idea.
Successful entrepreneurs take the time to vet their ideas before they begin researching. To keep it simple, there are two primary things to consider when formulating an idea.
- Methodically devise it
- Concisely express it
To methodically devise it, ask yourself:
- What problem does my idea solve?
- How does my idea solve the problem?
- What are the potential consequences (good or bad) of implementing my solution?
- What does success look like?
- Who are the stakeholders?
Once you have these answers, you need to be able to explain the idea to others in a systematic way. If you understand it well enough, you should be able to share it easily with others. The idea here is to be able to tell a complete stranger, in one sentence, what problem you’re solving and how.
For example, the company Story Brand’s solution is, “A Live Workshop to help you connect with customers, revolutionize
your marketing and grow your company.”
From this sentence, we know:
- the problem (not being able to connect with customers)
- how the problem is solved (a live workshop)
- the potential consequences of the solution (revolutionize your marketing)
- what success looks like (grow your company)
This is absolutely a daunting task, but it’s extremely important. If you can tackle this part, you’ll have the most valuable thing you can as an innovator: clarity.
Why is that? People don’t buy into the best products, ideas, or services. They buy into the products, ideas, and services they can understand the fastest. The human brain can’t stand ambiguity and it will do anything to avoid it. Clarity is the key in how you form your research, build your prototype, your branding, messaging, and so on.
Download my free Guide for Creating Global Solutions.
This process can feel overwhelming, which is why I’ve created a 6-step guide to help break it all down and get you started. With this tool, you can begin making your idea real. Just click the Subscribe button, fill out the form, and it will automagically appear in your inbox.