Coping With Innovation: It Doesn’t Always Work

In this challenging economic climate many business owners are trying new tactics – strategies to cut costs, new marketing channels and outsourcing basic services like bookkeeping and even customer care. It’s less costly in most cases.

Innovation Isn’t Success

A lot of people make the assumption that innovation and success go hand-in-hand. If innovation translated into success, any creative mind would be a millionaire, but we all know that’s not the case.

Innovation – a new way of looking at a familiar challenge – is a part of business success and without it, most businesses founder at best before going down for the third time. Permanently.

Without a well-considered plan to implement innovation and turn it from concept to capital, it’s nothing but a good idea. Getting from Point A to Point B. Desired outcomes. Reasonable expectations. They are an essential part of implementing innovation.

Entrepreneurial Risk and Failure

As business owners and entrepreneurs, we’re used to taking risk. Many of us walked away from the well-paying corporate world to chart our own course and derive the benefits of our labours. Entrepreneurs are willing to accept risk. In fact, every day is a risky venture for the true entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs must also be resilient and be willing to accept falling short of their own expectations. In other words, the smart entrepreneur must be willing to admit defeat and quit.

Quitters Never Prosper

Sure, we all learned this as we grew up. In fact, we grew up with this concept infused in our psyches. It’s part of becoming an entrepreneur and relying solely on your own talents to make your way in the world.

The fact is, at some level (perhaps the molecular level), the need to succeed is a part of every and all entrepreneurial endeavours. We can do it better, faster, at a lower cost or in a new way. That belief drives entrepreneurs to walk away from those well-paying jobs to open up shop around the corner from their one-time employers.

But here’s the thing: entrepreneurs are innovators, innovators do things for the first time (or in a different way), and because these men and women do try something new they sometimes fail. That’s a fact. Even the most successful businessperson has experienced the sting of failure. And, yes, it hurts.

However, (1) experiencing a failure does not make us failures, (2) we learn our best lessons from our worst failures and (3) it’s essential to know when to toss in the towel, call it a day and bounce back from defeat tomorrow.

Like many entrepreneurs, we equate quitting with failure when in fact, “you got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,” with apologies to singer Kenny Rogers. You have to know when to quit.

Quitters DO Prosper

In fact, these are the people who prosper most – the one’s willing to accept defeat (failure) and move on to the next item. Every good idea deserves full-bore effort and complete focus. That’s what grows businesses from spare-room adventures to business entities that employ staff and deliver goods or services every day.

There are several take-aways from this contrarian view of failure and calling it quits.

Avoid Investing Emotion As Well As Business Capital

You can’t take it personally. When a good concept falls flat, cut your losses and move on.

It doesn’t mean you don’t regret quitting your concept. Of course you regret it. In many cases, a lot of time and effort went in to that concept. Business capital was also invested.

If necessary, admit defeat, accept failure and move on. The best entrepreneurs distance themselves emotionally from their business decisions. It’s difficult enough to invest time, energy and capital in an innovative, albeit, flawed concept. Investing emotion simply makes it more difficult to extricate yourself from a bad situation.

Define Incremental Positive Outcomes

This forces you to create a plan. You expect a new client a week from your mailing. You expect a 10% increase in company revenues after launching a website. You expect an increase of 35% in company revenues by hiring a non-commissioned salesperson. Define success in small steps.

Then track your progress. If you aren’t meeting incremental objectives, move to plan B and don’t give it a second thought. Leave without a shred of guilt that your innovation isn’t flying.

Learn From Defeat

The biggest take-away of all – learn from your mistakes. Analyse them without emotion. Where did the concept derail and how can you avoid that from happening with the implementation of your next business innovation?

As an entrepreneur, you understand the risks you take with every business decision you make. It’s essential to long-term success that you also accept failures and move ahead in spite of them. Perhaps even because of them.

Quitters DO prosper. They’re smart. They know when to cut their losses when an innovation doesn’t turn out as expected.

Don’t be afraid to quit, even though it runs counter to the very fibre of your being. You’ll get them next time.






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