Younger entrepreneurs are much more likely to be involved in a start-up business than joining a Fortune 500 firm to manage an existing business. Why? Partly because younger entrepreneurs are willing to take more risk than older business people, and the other side of the coin is that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to get a job in a large corporation. If a young person does get the corporate job, they’re typically slotted into a variety of positions and given lots of training, all to find out if they can stick. In general, it’s much more attractive for most younger people to be involved in creating or working in a new, start-up company.
So what are some of the basics of Innovation that can be applied to start-up businesses? Here are some suggestions:
Thomas Edison, who was once a young entrepreneur and inventor himself, famously said that “most people wouldn’t recognize innovation if it walked in the door, because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work”. This is the 1% Inspiration and 99% Perspiration theory. So the message is, once you find great ideas for start-up businesses, be prepared for a lot of hard work to translate the start-up opportunity into a real business.
Further, Drucker believed that Innovation must be a structured process and that there are seven likely places to find innovation opportunities. These seven sources for innovation are:
Internal to the company or industry Innovation Sources:
- Unexpected occurrences
- Process needs
- Industry and market changes
External to the company Innovation Sources:
- Demographic changes
- Changes in perception
- New knowledge
If you read my three part series on Peter Drucker on Innovation, you may have learned about his view that only real purpose of any business is to “Create and keep a customer”. To do this the most important question a company can ask is “What does the customer find valuable?”, that addresses their needs, problems, desires and challenges. Delivering value to a customer, whether new or old, is the primary way most companies grow.
Unfortunately, most of us think of marketing as what really is old school marketing communications or MarCom, which is largely PR and advertising and focuses on graphic arts, brochures and websites. Strategic marketing, on the other hand, is needed for business growth and innovation, Drucker says this means to “know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself”. In my experience there are too few companies that use marketing in this manner. Further, if the purpose of Marketing is to know the customer, then the purpose of Innovation is “the creation of new value to customers in the form of self-selling products & services”.
- Look for past blog postings I’ve written on Business Innovation & Growth at Allbusiness.com: http://www.allbusiness.com/business-planning-structures/starting-a-business/2975370-1.html
- The Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation for Entrepreneurship: http://www.kauffman.org/
Charlie Alter owns Bentbrook Advisors LLC based in Sylvania, Ohio. He specializes in Growth Strategy, Innovation and Coaching and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org visit http://bentbrookadvisors.com for more information on his business advisory practice.