I have always thought of myself as an innovator and an entrepreneur having innovated products that have sold, and run my own business. In my early years of business, I considered both to be the same role. But having lived and executed both roles now for a number of years, I now consider them to be very different skill sets. They both deserve separate consideration.
The innovator thinks up an idea, an invention, a new service or way of doing things that solves an existing problem. If the new idea is better than the existing way of doing things and improves our lives, save us time and is cheaper, it will probably succeed. If it does not fulfil those essentials it will not. Innovators often create a start-up business and take their product to market themselves. However, in the early stages of innovation the money flows only one way and that is outwards, because developing a new product takes large amounts of investment. These are some of the stages of innovation:
- Ideas meritocracy – key people employed to explore potential ideas.
- Proof of concept (POC) – a method used to see whether your idea actually works in practice.
- Minimum viable product (MVP) – is a development technique in which a new productor website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product’s initial users.
- Taking a viable product to market.
I’ve taken a couple of products through these stages and it can take tens of thousands of pounds during the development pre-selling stage. I can tell you first hand from experience that the mental and physical costs match the pounds spent.
The process is far from finished. It is now the role of the entrepreneur to take it to market and attempt to get a return on investment (ROI). History is littered with many examples of products that have gone on to make billions of pounds in revenue and those that have lost millions because the product was a complete ‘donkey’ and did not sell. This is why the early stages of innovation are so important to distinguish good ideas from the bad. You have to keep your personal emotions out of the process and take impartial advice.
The entrepreneur is the one that makes things happen. It takes focus, diligence, discipline, flexibility, integrity and perseverance to deliver results. You can learn to become an entrepreneur but I think they are born. Successful entrepreneurs are the ones who take challenges in their stride, have a high capacity for work and keep pushing ahead until they succeed. Often having to adjust regularly as they steer a path through the complexity and resistance of the commercial world. They use techniques to remain highly motivated. Like reading my blog.
I am both the innovator and the entrepreneur in my company. Take look at what I wrote about the “The instant entrepreneur’ and watch my video below where I offer tips to help you succeed.