How solid is your business idea?
Who Says It’s A Great Idea? (It Better Be a Domain Expert!)
Physicist Niels Bohr once said that an expert is a man who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field. In business, according to Michael Dell, “Opportunity is part instinct and part immersion in an industry, a subject, or an area of expertise.” The discussion and value of the domain expert in entrepreneurship is nothing new in the literature, considering that Karl Vesper had profiled Noyce and Moore, founders of Intel, back in 1979.
In a popular Harvard Business Review article, “How Entrepreneurs Craft Strategies That Work,” Amar Bhide looks at America’s fastest growing private ventures. He found that “new ventures are usually started to solve problems the founders have grappled with personally.”
– In fact, 71 percent were what we call domain experts, as they replicated or modified an idea they encountered in their area of expertise.
– Some 20 percent discovered the idea serendipitously. Of this group, 6 percent actually wanted the product or service as an individual consumer, and only 4 percent got an idea while they were reading industry publications.
– About 5 percent conceived their idea following a technological change, and only 4 percent “discovered” the idea through “systematic research.” Bhide’s advice: “However popular it may be in the corporate world, a comprehensive analytical approach to planning doesn’t suit most start-ups.”
Brainstorming and Forced Analytics
As a corporate entrepreneur, what do you do to come up with great new ideas and winning innovations when competitive pressures, especially from start-ups, are nipping at your heels? For keeping your company “fresh, alert, and constantly innovating” we refer you to The Business of Innovation by Roger Bean and Russell Radford. It provides a powerful model and hands-on strategies for actively and systematically managing creativity throughout larger, established organizations. It also introduces a model for managing and nurturing innovation, and guidelines on measuring and evaluating innovations.
If you are stuck and need your creativity rebooted, or need some guidance leading group discussions, there are some techniques and books targeted for all entrepreneurs. Michael Michalko’s Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius is a great workbook for reorganizing your thinking around idea-generating strategies. It will help you open up a fresh viewpoint that leads you to creating innovative solutions to everyday challenges.
Other sources of ideas come from attending trade shows, listening to consumer feedback, formal competitive intelligence projects, R&D technology transfer projects, focused marketing intelligence reports, attending networking events, and hiring consultants to come speak to your company.