Ideas and Innovation – The Engine and Fuel of Entrepreneurship

We may be living in an unprecedented time. A time different from all other times – A time of times. A time when America is overwhelmed with debt, emerging from a recession and generally questioning, whether or not, we, as a country, may have lost our “Mojo.”

Realizing that jobs fuel the economy and a healthy U.S. economy brings about a healthy world economy, much attention is being paid to the value of the business start-up in this country.

For instance, the Kaufmann Foundation proposes that “all net new jobs” in this country, the last decade, have come from business start-ups. Now that is pretty valuable.

All of this has brought about a rush from many to identify “secret traits” to be found among certain individuals that would indicate a propensity for Entrepreneurial success. They have not yet found them. However, there are two traits that I believe are essential to Entrepreneurship and new business start-ups: Ideas and Innovation.

I cannot think of a single circumstance where a new business has been started without both. I call these two the engine and the fuel of Entrepreneurship. To explore these two factors, lets call them the “I Factors.” First, lets define both; Idea = a thought, a mental conception, an opinion or plan; Innovation = the process of introducing new methods. It is my belief that Entrepreneurs and those that start new business are those that are capable of converting ideas into innovation.

The absolutely magnificent outcome of this analysis it that both idea generation and innovation application are learned skills. Yes, it is true, that many are capable of generating more ideas than others and many find it easier to see how a new idea can become a business than others, but more often than not it is learned skill. On that premise alone, I believe you, your neighbor and even I can become an Entrepreneur simply by learning a new skill. It is also exciting to think that average people can be taught to become more Innovative and the value of an Innovative workforces increase the value of an organization exponentially.

If you agree with my premise and even if you don’t, I encourage you to build a culture in your organization that will foster new ideas and innovation and measure the difference in outcome after just one year. Here are seven things you can do to make your organization more innovative:

Building A Culture that Encourages Innovation

  1. Remember you are not the only source of new and innovative ideas. Hire people that want to change the world. Hire people that are inspired by finding a better way. You do not that, incidentally by accident. You do it by design.
  2. Make it OK to make mistakes but not OK to fail. You fail when you quit. Build a culture that never gives up.
  3. Expect and encourage change. Many still believe that tomorrow will look like today. Nothing ever stays the same. You and it are either getting better or you are becoming worse. Make sure it is the former. You are in control!
  4. Always maintain the highest expectations. We live in side two boxes, one that limits us by what we believe of ourselves and the other that limits us only by our physical abilities. Make certain your Self-Image pushes your physical limits.
  5. Encourage initiative. Initiative is not only about doing the expected without being asked, it is about doing the unexpected and asking for more.
  6. Measure and reward creativity. Few things worthwhile ever happen without goals and goals demand measurement and hunger for recognition. Create a tribe believing in themselves because they are change agents. Build a system that recognizes, and measures the value of ideas and innovation.
  7. Teach people to challenge all they do. Never stop looking for a better way.

I believe that there are essentials to Entrepreneurship. I believe that ideas are the engine and innovation the fuel to Entrepreneurship. I believe that you cannot be a successful Entrepreneur without them both. But the good news is you can learn how to be an idea generator and an innovator. Maybe you will want to help your organization start today.

by Stephen Blakesley

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