A term being thrown around a lot lately…innovation. Anyone can be an innovator. Anyone can be the next Steve Jobs. When you think about it, Steve Jobs didn’t create brand new ideas. He took ideas that were already in existence and made them better…he innovated on top of what existed. Jobs didn’t invent the mp3 player or the smartphone…but he did invent the iPod and the iPhone. When Steve Jobs chose to innovate on top of existing ideas he took a lot of the risk out of being an innovator.
Whatever your industry may be your goal is to learn everything about that industry. Catch up with everything that exists in your industry, read highly recommended books that discuss different aspects of your industry, follow the thought leaders of your industry…this will surely put you on the road to innovation.
Eventually, as you continue to learn and become well versed in your industry you will begin to notice gaps and voids. You will notice inefficiencies in the work place and think to yourself “Hey, I think I have an idea on how to make this faster and more productive.” Let’s call this the ‘idea spark’. Or, in other words, the lightbulb that turns on in your head.
You may want to:
- Start a new business, community organization or political movement.
- Design new city layouts that encourage walking and shared transportation.
- Build a niche blog about eco living, cooking, marketing, etc.
- Develop an AWESOME smartphone application.
I think we’ve all made it this far. We notice something we think we can do better. Now what?
You tell your friends, your family…maybe your teachers. In most cases they don’t know what to tell you because they’ve never moved beyond the ‘idea spark’. Your confidants may say something like,”Oh, that idea already exists.”
“The more original your idea, the less good advice others will be able to give you.”
Your idea, your excitement, and your persistence eventually weaken and you go back to your everyday life.
The above quote is pulled from Hugh McLeod’s book titled “Ignore Everybody”. A concept that engrains in your mind the ability to recognize good advice from uncertain criticisms.
It’s OK if your idea is in some type of existence somewhere. Remember what Steve Jobs did. He took really good ideas and made them better…and better…and better.
Another great quote from Hugh which is from another one of his books titled “Evil Plans”:
“There are a lot of people – not just people in authority – who are eager to derail your plan.”
Keep your idea close until it’s developed. Usually, the mid-leaders of your industry will do everything in their power to prevent you from succeeding with your new idea. Mid-leaders are workers below the CEO and seasoned industry veterans. Your innovation could be a threatening disruption to their market, their job, and their livelihood. More often then not they are just upset they didn’t come up with the idea. When that’s the case, then you can be certain you have a GREAT idea on your hands. Don’t change your mind…keep going!
Learn to position your idea in people’s brains. You can’t be everything to everyone…at first. If you have a market that will use your idea over the competition’s, then you should go for it. Your end goal can be to have a larger market, but even Facebook started as a Social Network for Harvard Students. Now Facebook is a social network for the world. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t start with a social network for the world…he started with his immediate market in which he had access to.
You may be involved in an organization, a school or a business. Test your idea there first. If you can find validity in your idea with your immediate market the next step is expanding.
Be your own boss and be a game-changer. The world doesn’t need any more employees. There are millions of unemployed people competing for the same positions. That is a risky and stressful lifestyle. The world is looking for problem solvers and innovators that can advance industries along side technology.
It’s rare you are the first person to think of your idea. In most cases, there is some one or some group working on a similar idea. You can try to collaborate with those individuals but most times you both have different end goals in mind. And the whole point of being an entrepreneur and innovator is creating your own way. I’m not saying collaboration is not necessary, because it is absolutely necessary. That’s why you need to build a team around your idea and collaborate with them. This team will share your vision and help refine your idea.
Who knows, maybe down the road when your idea has developed you can join forces with the other team. But don’t join in the beginning. It often leads to confused team members and a conflict of interests.
Use the Steve Jobs approach. Search the web and find everyone who is doing what you want to do or similar to your idea so you can innovate on top of what is already done. Think of your idea as a pinball in a pinball machine. Every time you run into a similar idea take the good stuff from them and move on to the next. Continue to bounce around until you’ve gathered all the knowledge to be in the lead. You will always be forced to roll down hill and fail. The more you play, the harder it gets.
The car wasn’t built first. The wheel was built first. So many tech tools have fully developed over the last few years. Social media is now a matured communication tool. Think of social media and tech tools as the “Wheels of our Generation”. Now that the wheels have been built, it’s time for you to build a car.