Innovation: how can I get my business started?

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I am going to pose and answer a few questions to get things started. The first of which is,

how can I get my business idea started?  How can I come up with an innovation?

We would all like to earn our income from something we enjoy doing. Here a few questions and ideas to prompt your creativity in developing an innovation:

Customer or consumer?

What are the benefits of my product or service innovation to the person buying it?  Don’t forget, the person buying is not always the person consuming, e.g. things an adult might buy for a child, but they are the purchasing decision-maker.

Product benefits v. features

Benefits are not always obvious at first glance. Often benefits meet some psychological or other need which isn’t listed in the product features e.g. a golf club membership might be more about social, business or prestige desires than learning to play golf.

Gain from pain

If you are not sure what product or service you want to sell, it can be helpful to use your own experience or observe other people’s experience of frustrations, complaints, inconveniences, ideas, missed opportunities etc. and come up with a solution for them.

Path dependency

This can be an especially good opportunity if the solution involves your own unique learning. You will have a number of unique combinations of experience from a range of different jobs, roles, life experiences, education, training, hobbies, passions, interests. Some have even turned the pain in their lives into an opportunity to help others who are going through something similar.

The management writer Jay Barney came up with four conditions that indicate how successful a product or service may be using the alliteration VRIO:

Is it Valuable to someone?

Obviously, if something is not perceived as valuable then it won’t sell easily. Be challenging in your thinking though, think about the amount of money that is made in the waste management industry…

Is it Rare?

If something is valuable but readily available anywhere, it is not going to fetch a high price. This is where supply and demand come into the equation. Just think, at one time salt was very valuable and the Romans used to pay their soldiers in salt – now it is a freely available commodity. Having said that, there is a market for speciality salts from different sources and in different grain sizes and colours that have other ingredients added to them along with accessories – especially in Brittany, France.

Is it difficult for others to Imitate?

This is where your individual life experiences come in to play. It will be difficult for others to duplicate your own hard-won combination of capabilities. This is what the management writers Hamel and Prahalad call ‘path dependendency’ i.e. the competency needed to produce the product or provide the service is dependent on the learning you experienced on your life or business path.

Are you specifically Organised to produce the product or provide the service?

Do you have access to needed resources and capabilities? This can take the form of physical resources, knowledge, skills, motivation, other people or even customers for other people’s businesses.

I hope this starts some creative thinking. Let me know your thoughts or further questions.

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