I can’t tell you how many times in the last few days I have heard that we are in an innovation society. It seems to be all around. My ears are tuned to this word because at UNC-Charlotte, I am at the point in the class I teach on Entrepreneurship where I am teaching innovation. I am fortunate in my class to stick to strategy and principles that make great entrepreneurs and not thinks like a pitch deck or a business plan, which by the way are extremely important but something I think my students can learn somewhere else. I want to teach young people (well any people for that fact) what it really means to be an entrepreneur. I have, however, taken a few thing for granted and I have come to a conclusion that people have to learn to be innovative and it is not a natural skill.
Reason 1 – Safety
Having been on the south end of more business idea pitches than I care to write about, when faced with the prospects of actually going ahead with the business people have a tendency to get scared. When people are scared they become conservative and when people are conservative their innovation takes a significant beating. Instead of birthing a completely innovative idea they dial it back to something that is currently working in the market. Innovation takes being bold… but not stupid. One of the things that I stress to my class that an entrepreneur, on the surface, looks like a risk taker but there are not.
Reason 2 – Selfie
Once people are convinced that what they have is a truly innovative idea it is very difficult to change their mind. Plus you don’t want to be one of those that are trashing their ideas. People are a collection of their experiences and knowledge and when combined with enthusiasm – look out. However, the innovative idea they are driving everyone crazy is not put to the test it is just a dream. I know when we started AvidXchange, we had several ideas that didn’t work because we defined success as a piece of software that people where, (1) Willing to buy – there was a need (2) Buy at a good rate, which allowed us to concentrate on service (3) Continue to buy so we weren’t a revolving door of new clients. We let the market and our customer decide if our idea was innovative or not.
Reason 3 – Creativity
When asked, most people will say they are creative, however, back to the first point when pressure is applied people get nervous. I especially experience this with companies that have lunched and are in a crisis. As an outsider you give what I think is simple and obvious advice because I am not part of the stress, and advice I give is always met with, “wow – what a great idea”. Stress turns creativity and the ability to do your best thinking off.
If you call out the fact that you are being safe, introspective, and less creative you can use that insight to truly be you innovative best!
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About The Author:
Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information