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Innovate to survive! Innovate to grow!

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Innovate to survive! Innovate to grow!

Delving into the role of innovation in building a sustainable and growing business…

Check these statistics out

  • 80% of businesses fail within the first 5 years.

  • 80% of the remaining 20% fail by the 10th year.

That means, only 4 businesses out of every 100 businesses that are incorporated survive the 10th year. That is certainly a rather intimidating statistic for any budding entrepreneur. So if you are a business person and let’s say you survive 10 years in business, what does that make you? A SUPERSTAR!

And how are superstars created? Is their genetic wiring different from ours? Or did they imbibe a secret potion a la Asterix the Gaul that gave them super powers? No! Not really!

The secret potion of all successful people, whether they are successful people in business or any other sphere of activity is “INNOVATION”. So much so that, the slogan of successful entrepreneurship has become a very emphatic ‘Innovate or Die’. The above statistics is proof enough to show it is true too. Lack of innovation can mean death of a business.

So, what is innovation really? The dictionary definition is: 

  • The introduction of something new

  • A new idea, method, or device: NOVELTY

My interpretation of it in the context of business goes like this:

In business, every 2-4 years, we must reinvent the way in which we run our business. We must be willing to reassess dispassionately our business model itself. Keeping in step with the advances of humankind, new ideas must be injected in to the business. As the old ways of doing business become redundant over passage of time, openness to change becomes necessary.

Let us take the example of Walmart. Walmart is a behemoth launched in 1962. It employs 2.3 million people and ended 2020 with a market cap of USD 407.84 billion. The company is a miniature country by itself. In fact, Walmart’s market cap is larger than most of the islands on the Caribbean. Walmart was replaced by Amazon as the company with the largest market value as of December 31, 2016. Amazon was born in 1994 and has 950,000 employees. The market cap of Amazon stands at USD 1.64 trillion in 2020. In fact, the market value of Amazon is more than the market value of Walmart, Costco and Target combined.

How did such a drastic shift happen? Walmart failed to evolve fast enough! They did not innovate to stay relevant. That’s what happened!

Amazon, on the other hand, was launched to sell just paper books. Now, they not only sell millions of products other than books, but also manufacture or distribute books, audiobooks, music and movies.   They have also forayed into their own subscription based services for audio and video content. If you observe closely what is apparent is that Amazon never rested on its laurels. It reinvented itself frequently to evolve into the company that it is today.

The amusing thing is that the idea of reinvention and innovation holds good for us as people too, in all walks of our life. Jim Rohn often said “Work hard at your job, you make a living. Work hard on yourself, you make a fortune”. What did that mean? It means that we cannot be standing still. We must evolve. The more we evolve, the more we adapt and the more successful we become.

I led a life of zero to minimum growth until 2011 and it took me nowhere. The moment I commenced working towards evolving into a better human being, I commenced growing as a person and life turned around!

As human beings complacency is one of our biggest drawbacks. The fear of leaving our comfort zone is often crippling. But as Tony Robbins says “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” Our impulse to change is only when we don’t have a choice, but our success lies in making innovation a habit and removing it out of the realm of impulse.

Innovation is built on a sound foundation of habits. Fortunately for us we need not be a genius to pick up good habits. They are just practices you follow consistently where outcomes too are incremental.  The simplest and fastest ways to innovate is by building habits of:

1.     Reading books

2.     Watching educational and relevant documentaries

3.     Attending workshops and seminars

So, please don’t stop evolving or reinventing yourself. Do not stop innovating with your life and in your life! To stay relevant in life and in business innovation is necessary!

As they say Change is the only constant!