The COVID-19 pandemic has jacked up the experience of uncertainty radically and discouraged innovation for most small businesses. And yet the need for creativity is only greater in this situation. Cleverism, one of the preeminent entrepreneurship publications, wrote years ago already that “Creativity is the must have skill for entrepreneurs.” And Entrepreneur magazine adds that “Entrepreneurship goes hand-in-hand with innovation.”
Most entrepreneurs should realize this. What’s the point of launching and running your own business without great ideas and the ability to implement them in new ways?
And yet most entrepreneurs are not innovators. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, less than a third of entrepreneurial businesses worldwide are innovative businesses. In a developing economy like South Africa, the taste for innovation in SMEs drops even further. Big business is actually far more innovative. More than half of the Standard and Poor 500 place innovation in their top two strategic priorities.
This imbalance makes sense when you look through the lens of risk. Big companies copy themselves, true, but entrepreneurs, having less history to draw on, copy previous entrepreneurs. Schumpeter insisted that the capitalist, not the entrepreneur, was the real bearer of risk. It makes sense, since ninety-five percent of product innovations fail. Large companies can absorb those losses more easily, in the same way that movie studios recoup on nine losing films with one blockbuster.
The advantage an entrepreneur has is the ability to surf uncertainty. Because uncertainty is the core of creativity and certainty is innovation’s killer. Yet uncertainty is just an idea. It doesn’t exist in the world in the way a dog does, or a car or a tree.
And it’s easier for an entrepreneur, as the owner and driver of her business, to make the mindset shift to stop fearing uncertainty and instead embrace it as the gift it is, than it is for a corporate suit to do so and implement this shift in their huge team.
Studies show that the best indicator of an entrepreneur’s success is the strength and size of their social network. Who does the entrepreneur surround themselves with?
So today, to celebrate Entrepreneurs Day – embrace your uncertainty as a benefit.
The two takeaways are simple:
Embrace uncertainty. It makes you more creative. And it’s imaginary anyway.
Get into a network that embraces uncertainty too. Connect yourself with people who will celebrate the anxiety together.
by Michael Lee
Michael offers an exciting ‘Training and internationally certifying Creativity and Innovation Coaches Course’ – Join the 3 month programme starting Jan 2021.
For more information or to book contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org