Innovation is at the core of every successful business, organization and charity.
It fundamentally shapes every aspect of our society. However, endless studies have shown innovation is seldom primarily motivated by money. But if money isn’t the primary motivator, then what is? Why do we innovate?
When I was at university I was teaching graphic design programs. The tools were complex, hard to learn and even harder to use. After watching students struggle to learn even the basic, I realised that in the future design was going to be different- it was going to be simple and online. Seven years later and I’m still pursuing the same vision. It’s been an incredible adventure, however, without a strong belief in what I am doing it would have been very hard to persist.
The world that we live in today has been created by innovators. It’s the light that beams out of my computer screen, the medicine I can take when I’m sick, or the way I can travel around the world in hours, not weeks.
Every industry has been shaped by innovators. From horses to electric cars, or fire to the light bulb; I like to think that it’s an ever-continuing progression to a better world.
Here are some very practical steps for successful innovating:
1 Solve a problem
The most important thing is to solve a big problem that you believe in.Find a truly significant problem and everything will fall into place.
2 Keep a notebook
I love having a notebook and I’ve kept one for many, many years. The thoughts that you had late at night will disappear at sunrise if you don’t write them down. I’ve been surprised by the insights I’ve had at bizarre times.
3 It doesn’t have to be big
While it’s great to be inspired by a grand vision, it happens differently for everyone. Plans become clearer with every step that you take, so just get started on the journey.
4 Start niche, go wide
Starting in a small market can be a great starting point. Try pursuing a particular niche or a particular geography first. You’ll learn a lot.
5 Talk to lots of people
Don’t need be scared that someone will steal your idea. When you realize just how much effort it takes to take an idea and turn it into a reality, you will be much less scared that someone you tell a little of your idea will take it and pursue it. The insights you will gain from voicing your idea and discussing it will most likely outweigh the danger.
6 Go to the epi-center
Canva is a tech company, so going to San Francisco was transformational for me. It enabled me to meet people who had created successful companies before and learn from their successes and mistakes. It would have been very challenging to start Canva without exposure to these amazing people.
Learn from the best: Even if you can’t talk to the best people in your industry yet, you can certainly learn from them. Read their blogs and watch their webinars, read their books. Learn everything that you possibly can about your industry. If everyone is working towards a better tomorrow, the future will be just fine. Go innovate!