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
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!
We have heard a lot about entrepreneurs bootstrapping. Bootstrapping is often referred to as doing more with less. Here are some broad ways in which it is practiced. If you are an entrepreneur, check to see if you have used some of these methods?
Beg: Entrepreneurs typically should not have an ego. They will go to any extent for the sake of their entrepreneurial dreams. They will do anything to see their dreams turn into reality. But I come across a lot of entrepreneurs who can’t ask others for stuff! This is because their egos’ don’t let them ask. To be a successful entrepreneur one must learn to ask. Ask like you cannot live without it. Lesson: Learn to ask (literally beg if needs be) for resources your start-up requires.
Borrow: Entrepreneurs should not buy stuff, but they do. The moment a start-up sees little money, it is spent buying assets. Buying should be the last on the list, but very often it is the first action that the entrepreneur engages in. Many times entrepreneurs take loans (debt) to buy assets. Borrowing does not seem to occur to entrepreneurs as an option because they worry that others might copy their idea. They worry that borrowing could lead to competitors. They also believe that borrowing is costlier than owning! Yes it is from a purely financial perspective for established / mature operations. This rule does not apply for experiments. If you can borrow capacity for production, you must. If you can borrow office space, computers, machinery, except probably co-founders, you must. Lesson: Borrow resources before buying into any.
Steal: If borrowing is not practiced enough, stealing is almost considered sin. The famous quote from Picasso comes to my mind – “Good artists copy, Great artists steal”. Does that not apply to entrepreneurs? Absolutely! I will re write the quote as: “Good entrepreneurs copy, Great entrepreneurs steal”. What does stealing mean in this context? It means looking for good things that others have already discovered and trying to incorporate them into our business. Why reinvent the wheel? Lesson: Keep an open mind to pick and use what has already been created. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
If you are not doing enough of these then maybe you are not using enough of your entrepreneurial skills. Try to see how you can practice them. I will elaborate them in future posts!
Share your thoughts and ideas on these and good examples of these in practice that you have observed.