- Balance current and future customer needs. It is easy to be tied down with day-to-day business management and focused on delivering what your customers expect from you. Set aside time to disconnect from the present, and feed your creativity to imagine your customers’ future needs. This will help you dream and plan for the future and maintain your competitive advantage.
- Use measurement to evaluate your ideas. When weighing which idea to implement, ask yourself, “How can we measure this?” Pick ideas apart to identify issues that could crop up during implementation. If the results show that a project isn’t viable, then modify or abandon the idea and move on to the next one.
- Minimize potential pitfalls by releasing your new product or service incrementally. Implementing new ideas is risky. Iteration is key. Launch the prototype, gather feedback from customers, make necessary changes, and test again. Using this low-cost approach, you can turn your novel and creative ideas into products or services without much potential downside.
- Maintain a simple organizational structure. Fewer layers of hierarchy will enable easier information flow between you and your team. A simple organizational structure will also increase employee involvement in implementing ideas, encourage employees’ creativity, and lead to quicker execution and understanding of new ideas.
- Balance efficiency with creativity. Process management techniques, such as total quality management or Six Sigma, which can increase your growing company’s efficiency and productivity, are also likely to decrease your ability to innovate. Don’t let efficiency-enhancing practices act as barriers to exploring new ideas. Nurture your natural creativity. Continue to invest in new ideas as you increase operational efficiency.
- Mobilize resources to fuel your innovation process. You need two things for successful innovation: diverse experiences that spark your creativity and resources to drive the innovation process. Tap in to your existing network or build new alliances internally and externally to stimulate your creativity and access shared resources.
- Learn from your failures. When carefully planned new initiatives fail, the potential to learn from them is immense. Don’t let this learning opportunity go to waste. Conduct a post-mortem, make sense of what happened, and add what you have learned to your knowledge base. Fostering intelligent failures will help you learn what not to do as you dream about the future.
The 10 Talents of Successful Entrepreneurs
When Gallup studied entrepreneurial talent, we found a tremendous variety of behaviors among successful entrepreneurs. But after analyzing the data and listening to hours of interviews, we distilled everything down to a list of 10 talents that influence behaviors and best explain success in an entrepreneurial role. Every entrepreneur uses some mix of these 10 talents to start or grow a business:
- Business Focus: You make decisions based on observed or anticipated effect on profit.
- Confidence: You accurately know yourself and understand others.
- Creative Thinker: You exhibit creativity in taking an existing idea or product and turning it into something better.
- Delegator: You recognize that you cannot do everything and are willing to contemplate a shift in style and control.
- Determination: You persevere through difficult, even seemingly insurmountable, obstacles.
- Independent: You are prepared to do whatever needs to be done to build a successful venture.
- Knowledge-Seeker: You constantly search for information that is relevant to growing your business.
- Promoter: You are the best spokesperson for the business.
- Relationship-Builder: You have high social awareness and an ability to build relationships that are beneficial for the firm’s survival and growth.
- Risk-Taker: You instinctively know how to manage high-risk situations.
These 10 talents don’t address every factor that affects business success. Non-personality variables such as skills, knowledge, and experience along with a host of external factors play a role in determining business success and must be taken into consideration when theorizing on business creation and success. But these 10 talents explain a large part of entrepreneurial success and cannot and should not be ignored. Understanding and acknowledging your inherent talents gives you the best chance at success.