According to research by Amar Bhide, 85% of entrepreneurs around the world build businesses based on someone else’s idea. Only about 15 percent of them launch ventures based upon their own original idea. Think Jeff Bezos at Amazon.com building an online book selling business in a world of brick and mortar booksellers. Or moving the world to electronic readers by coming up with the Kindle and a digital bookstore. Entrepreneurial founders at the world’s most innovative companies, like Bezos, are indeed the “crazy ones” (as Apple’s “Think Different” campaign put it). They change the world by creating new businesses that no one else has thought of before.
So are you an innovative entrepreneur? Just see if you Strongly agree, Agree, Disagree or Strongly Disagree to the following statements.
- Associational thinking: I creatively solve challenging problems by drawing on diverse ideas or knowledge.
- Questioning: I often ask questions that challenge others’ fundamental assumptions.
- Observing: I get innovative ideas by directly observing how people interact with products and services.
- Networking: I regularly talk with a diverse set of people (e.g., from different functions, industries, geographies) to find and refine new business ideas.
- Experimenting: I frequently experiment to create new ways of doing things.
If you said “yes” in agreement with at least three of these diagnostic questions, the odds are in your favor that you have been, are, or could be an innovative entrepreneur. But, if you did not agree with these statements (in other words, you don’t do these things on a regular basis), then you are unlikely to be an innovator unless something changes. The good news is if you are willing to change your behavior, you can increase your potential to become an innovative entrepreneur. But you must CHOOSE to do so. This takes hard work because it requires real changes in your habits and behaviors.
Put simply, innovative entrepreneurs act different to think different and in the end, they make a difference. They regularly ask provocative questions, observe the world like anthropologists, network with diverse people to get new ideas, experiment to figure out novel solutions, and connect the typically unconnected insights to create disruptive new business ideas. That’s what famous entrepreneurs do and it’s what the less famous, but equally innovative, entrepreneurs of the world do as well.