Biz Features

Innovation is Overrated

by . February 17th, 2015

The world is built on ideas, and it’s that keep things going forward. New products, new problems, new solutions. Or so we’d like to believe.

In a previous article, Behind The Curve: How Older Tech Can Be Part of Your Business Strategy, we explained how the current obsession of going with whatever’s new doesn’t always make sense in a lot of situations.

Many of the same things apply for developing a business plan. In most cases, it’s not those who develop new ideas who become “successful”, to put it vaguely.

Rather, it’s the ones who execute those ideas that tend to get more traction.

Entrepreneurship at its core, is about solving problems. You will not get very far if you’re just in it purely for the money (or so I’d like to think). As the saying goes, build a better mousetrap, and the world will come knocking at your door.

Were iPods innovative?

Apple didn’t invent portable music and certainly didn’t develop portable mp3 players. It’s just that with the iPod, they introduced a design that made more sense to more people, and they paired it with a brilliant marketing strategy that made a formerly niche tech product cool. They helped consumers realize they actually did want an mp3 player to begin with.

What’s hilarious is, while Apple is often thought of as innovative for the iPod, they didn’t actually invent DAT players. They just delivered the essentially the same thing as their competitors. The innovation would likely be more fairly credited to their marketing team, and not to their designers, who in addition to not inventing anything new, also ripped off/paid plenty of homage to Diether Rams’s ideas on minimalist design.

What are we trying to solve?

Many entrepreneurs try to solve gigantic problems, and fall all over themselves trying to come up with a novel solution to some esoteric problem.

True, it’s easier to become successful if you have identified an untapped niche. True, innovation can be exciting when you are actually able to deliver and have your name in the history books, or at least the patent office.

But in reality, success is far more often attributable to something mundane. It can be as simple as communicating better to your customer, having fewer steps in your order process, not hassling them every time they enter your store, helping them make better decisions.

It’s not just about new ideas

If all the world wants is new ideas, plenty of us would be royally screwed. But fortunately, that’s not true at all. What most of us really want is for our expectations to be met and exceeded, and innovation in tech is not the only way to do that.

New restaurants and clothing stores are opening up every day. While many will fail, a few will become successful. Are these industries really filling a unique need? Not really, if we’re honest.

The next time you’re figuring out a problem to solve, think really hard if it’s worth beating yourself up developing something new, when all you might need to do is find a different way of looking at existing things we take for granted.

Ideas are nothing. Execution is everything.

Play semantics and tell Art why he’s wrong. Comment below!



Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.