Guerilla Innovation, Chapter One, Point of Difference
Innovation begins with a desire to create something. When you use your creativity to make something, to actually be innovative, it has to have a point of difference. Even a pizza shop has some point of difference right? Thin crust, deep dish, by-the-slice, or even, the only pizza shop in Three Oaks, Michigan. Those are minimal points of difference but in the pizza business that might be enough.
At the heart of it, Innovation is all about new and different. Or at the very least, significantly better.
You’ve got it in mind you want to start a business, and maybe you have a firm idea of just what you’re going to do and what your point of difference might be. If so, good, but don’t rest on your laurels, you could be wrong, verify!
If you have a desire to create something but you’re not sure what, don’t feel too bad — you’re in the same place many people have been — before they figured out what to do. You’re also in the same place as a very big company with an established product who is saying, okay, what’s next? Embrace the ambiguity, and live in exploration mode. Some call it research.
Let me be very direct here: Innovation is difficult. Being an entrepreneur is difficult. It’s risky, mentally demanding and stressful. It’s complicated — creating something different and useful is a bit like doing one of those jigsaw puzzles of blue and white clouds. Typically, nothing is obvious. If it was obvious or easy, somebody else would already be doing it. So, do a gut check before you jump in, is this something you really want? Is this something you are compelled to do? Are you ready to work like a mad person? Maybe the most important question is — are you ready to learn? I ask that because if there is one rule about innovation it might be: What you assume is nearly always wrong.
Alright, let’s get back to the main point here, that point of difference. How do you know if you are different and new enough? You ask a potential customer that’s how, but before you ask, put on your listening ears, meaning, shut up and don’t defend your idea. You’ll need to ask more than one person. If someone is ready to give you an order, that’s a great indicator. If what you are doing is very new, your idea might be rejected. That means you either have nothing of value, or, they don’t see the value. If they don’t see the value, look for ways to prove it. Or improve your idea so it has clear value.
If you are still in discovery mode, one way to learn about what might be a thing worth doing is to get in conversation with potential customers. If you are not a natural networker, get over it, be an un-natural networker. Talking to people is how you learn. You also learn by observing what people actually do (as opposed to what they say they do).
Have I said it makes sense to really know something? I mean a business area or niche. If you want to develop a new pool cleaning service, it’s a good idea to really know a lot about pools. If you’re not an expert at a field — become an expert. How do you become an expert? 1.) Read about it, 2.) Experience it, and, 3.) Talk about it.
So, get out there and learn.
For Chapter Two click on this link: http://www.greggfraley.com/blog/2012/07/18/jungle-business-plan/