Creative and/or Innovative

I was recently invited to attend a seminar on Intellectual Property Rights. It was illuminating to hear the views of so many people especially on the core aspects of intellectual property (patents, copyrights, trade marks, geographic indicators, and others).

But there seemed to be a fundamental aspect that remained muddled in many of the presentations – the difference between ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’. It seemed to me that many speakers used the term interchangeably. Being a student of entrepreneurship it hit me hard – since the difference between the two terms makes pretty much all the difference between being an artist and an entrepreneur.

Creative – is an adjective to describe one who can come up with original and imaginative ideas to create something

AND

Innovative – is an adjective used to describe one who introduces new ideas, original and useful

The above is important to understand (easier said than done). But if one wants to understand why there is a strong argument for action in entrepreneurship – the above difference in meaning becomes critical. It is by being innovative that one turns ideas into reality. Hence entrepreneurs need to be innovative.

But – Innovative does not subsume Creative!

Many entrepreneurs (innovative) build on the ideas of others (creative) and in some cases successfully institutionalise them. We remember them for a long time through their products / services / organizations.

If you are one who teaches entrepreneurship, it is important to clearly highlight the difference between the two; help aspiring entrepreneurs appreciate the importance of the latter; and teach them the skills to identify the former. This is not the only thing that makes one an entrepreneur, but definitely eases the pressure on them to be creative at any cost.

Think about it!

2 Things Startups NEED TO DO

  1. Build something that ‘someone’ wants / needs
  2. Talk to a lot of people who look like that ‘someone’

Startups ought to do this, but most don’t! I am not the first person to say this. Every worthwhile investor says this. Every successful startup seems to have done it. Every unsuccessful startup says they should have done more of it. At times failed startups thank ‘step 2’ to have failed quickly and learned a lot from it.

But even these days when I talk to founders, I find that they simply get distracted by the variety of inputs they get and lose focus on the above two actions. They make assumptions and build on imaginations. These kill startups.

So, if you are an entrepreneur – ensure you and your co-founders do the above two things religiously. It will help you and your startup in more ways than what a mentor or investor can do for you.

Don’t Think! Just Act now on the above two things.

Startup means Shutdown as well

Ola shut down Taxi For Sure – https://inc42.com/flash-feed/ola-shuts-down-taxiforsure

AskMe shuts itself down – https://inc42.com/flash-feed/askme-shutdown

Shutting down is part of the process of starting up. Whether you shut yourself out or you get shutdown by your acquirer, getting in and out of business is normal in the startup world. If you don’t have the gut to handle it, you must not play in this space.

I sympathise  with the employees who joined in the hope that they will make a living. I think these individuals who are not ready for so much risk must avoid the startup world. Because one thing is sure, closure is going to take place at a larger scale than what we are seeing. The simple logic is that – as we increase the number of startups starting up, the number closing down is going to rise.

People who don’t like this ‘getting in and out of jobs and startups’ must find more stable lands – corporations, governments, family businesses, small and medium enterprises, etc. Sadly even these are not as stable as we view them to be! But they are way more safer than real startups.

It is important that people joining the work force be aware of this and then make decisions.

Sad but True!

Moving beyond the Razor-Blade Business Model

Almost every Business Model Class speaks about Gillette’s excellent idea of what is now popularly known as the ‘Razor Blade Business Model’. So many companies have milked this model. Examples include: Camera Films, Mobiles, Games, etc

There are even examples of the ‘Reverse Razor Blade Business Models’. Example: Apple.

Here is a study from a professor (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0007681316000124) that questions if this model has lived its life and is facing its end-of-life. The study shows how the time has come for organisations to look at better pricing models. The environment in which we live today provides a lot more transparency and access. There are also institutional voids in emerging economies and Intellectual Property is not respected the same way as in the West. With so many new and changed forces, it is time for organisations to innovate with their business models and more importantly their revenue models.

Happy Reading and Happy Thinking!

Solitude and Creativity

While it may seem contrarian that ‘solitude’ catalyses ‘creativity’; it seems to have some validity.

While I believe that spending time with oneself is a powerful way to unlock your inner potential, I have never researched on this topic. But when I came across this wonderful write-up on the topic, I could not resist myself from sharing. ‘Is Solitude the Secret to Unlocking our Creativity?’ Link: http://observer.com/2016/06/is-solitude-the-secret-to-unlocking-our-creativity/

I spend a lot of time ‘walking’ and try to spend a fair amount of time in ‘solitude’. Both of these are getting more difficult. But almost every successful and happy person (the combination is rare) I meet increases my belief in both the above activities.

As entrepreneurs, you have a need to be actively engaged in social conversations. But you also need to disconnect from your company, industry, market and be with yourself. It provides you access to your original you. It is needed to help make that unique contribution that only you can provide.

Try it. It seems to me that ‘walking’, ‘solitude’ and ‘silence’ are also the pathway to happiness. Read more on this. Think about it. Reflect and Find out for yourself.

Be Creative. Be Entrepreneurial. Be Happy.

Are you catching Pokemon?

If you are not, its still ok! But, if no one around you is catching them, it signals a problem! While I have not caught Pokemons yet, many of my students are clearing them out from the Virtual World. They got me exposed to this!

No, I am not asking you, ‘teacher’, to play ‘Pokemon Go‘ but I am suggesting that you must keep yourself abreast of the quick developments taking place in the world of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Be around people (students) who are catching Pokemon. Figure out what they are doing and help them decipher the deeper trends behind the fun. They will value it forever. Here is something that you can do as an entrepreneurship educator.

When you are teaching entrepreneurship, one of the key things is to help aspiring and existing entrepreneurs identify emerging trends / be alert to changes. This helps them either find opportunities or create them. All of this is futuristic. And one of these futuristic trends is – VR / AR.

To help your students / participants appreciate and explore this new world, you need to be exposed yourself. Even if you don’t catch Pokemons, you need to understand a little more of this emerging trend.

Here is a nice article to get you up the curve: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/07/13/despite-hype-virtual-reality-still-years-away-making-difference-higher-ed?

Remember that this article provides you numerous pointers to identify opportunities around which million (possibly billion) dollar businesses can be built:

As an aspiring entrepreneur are you going to build one?

As an educator are you going to help one of your students build one?

Happy Reading, Happy Playing, Happy Imagining, Happy Entrepreneuring!

VC Funding – Slowdown is (probably) good

While there is a lot of hoopla around entrepreneurship the world over, two trends seem to be heating up:

  1. Reducing valuations of high growth ventures
  2. Slowing down of venture investments

I personally see this as a positive thing. Like all things in the world, entrepreneurship and associated investments go through ups and downs. During the ‘down’ phase there is a tendency for situations to become closer to normal. I think this is happening to this sector.

Reducing valuations is also good. This reduces the pressure on the entrepreneurs while also keeping valuation close to value creation (read more on the difference here).

I recently came across an article that spoke of the virtues of a possible decline/slowdown in Venture Capital (VC) Funding. Link: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/how-entrepreneurs-can-weather-the-drop-in-vc-funding/?utm_source=kw_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2016-05-04

Think about it.