15 entrepreneurs discuss the right time to pursue innovation

In order not to stagnate in today’s ever-evolving marketplace, an entrepreneur must keep a finger on the pulse of the latest trends on the one hand, and keep an eye on the reasons for getting into business on the other. To remain balanced, the leader should make the pursuit of innovation a natural part of the company’s course to survive.

Below, 15 members from Board of Directors of Fast Company on the journey to merging legacy with future opportunities to help their businesses thrive.

1. CONSIDER THE SHORT AND LONG TERM RESULTS.

Most entrepreneurs need to do both at the same time. Stay the course in the short term because success requires conviction because you are right in the face of a lot of data and people telling you that you are wrong. Seek long-term innovation as emerging technology trends are already laying the groundwork to disrupt and upend your business. – Scott Brighton, Aurea

2. PIVOT WHEN NECESSARY.

Real entrepreneurs usually never identify themselves as entrepreneurs. They typically start out as problem solvers. Eventually, someone calls you an entrepreneur. Problem solvers turn around when necessary and never follow the status quo. If they did, there would be no need to solve the problem at hand. After all, innovation is a continuous practice, not something you pursue. – Moritz Kelly, Windpact Inc.

3. MIX LEGACY WITH OPPORTUNITY.

Businesses should actively scan the environment to identify predictive market insights that enable them to constantly evolve. Fusing ancient practices with the art of the possible can create a balanced approach. Pilots are a great way to gauge impact and value. – Briton Bloch, Federal Navy

4. DON’T REST ON YOUR LAURELS.

There is no question that innovation should be embedded in your DNA and institutionalized. From the famous Wayne Gretzky “I run to where the puck will be, not where it was.” Everything changes, and as technology, information and innovation advance at the speed of light, your success today is not your success tomorrow. To stay relevant, skate where the puck goes. – Ed Beltran, Fierce, Inc.

5. STAY DEDICATED TO SELF-REFLECTION.

Create a work environment where the team and its leaders work together to identify areas where the company should drive innovation, as well as areas that are currently successful with their current actions. This allows you to stay the course. At BrandON Media Group, for example, my team’s commitment to self-reflection as a company means we’re constantly reassessing our tactics and looking for ways to improve. – Brandon Feder, BrandON media group

6. CHALLENGE IS ESSENTIAL FOR GROWTH.

Challenges are essential for growth, but no one is cut out to spend all their time on the brink of terror. If you’ve been on the brink of terror for a while, take this as a sign that you need to recalibrate and temporarily stay on course. On the other hand, if you are overly comfortable, you must undoubtedly strive for innovation. It is important that you continue to develop yourself and your company. – Camille Preston, AIM Leadership, LLC

7. SUBSCRIBE TO CREATIVE DESTRUCTION.

The principle of creative destruction demands that, in the end, the status quo is not enough. Every industry experiences its typewriter moment – a point where innovation renders their product or service obsolete. Avoid being a victim statistic by learning to embrace change and innovation in your organization. – Tyrone Foster, InvestNet, LLC

8. STATUS QUO ACTIONS RESULTS TO MOVE FORWARD.

The wheel was invented in the 4th century B.C. Invented in 300 BC, the transportation industry never stopped evolving. Companies that innovate are the ones that are leaders in their industries. Entrepreneurs should be the ones who challenge the status quo and drive change. The status quo should only be a process to measure results or test performance for the next iterations. Innovation should never stop. – Goran Paun, ArtVersion

9. DON’T STAY STAGNANT.

I think entrepreneurs need to make the pursuit of innovation the “course” of their business. As history has shown time and time again, few companies can afford to stagnate if they want to survive. So it’s not a question of when to innovate, but how. This can be done through steady and incremental steps rather than a sudden change in business. – Syed Balchi |, WPBeginner

10. USE YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES.

The entrepreneur’s decision to stay the course or pursue innovation is a difficult one. They need to weigh their options and make sure they are making the best decision for their business. To make this decision, business owners should consider the current strengths and weaknesses of their business and how they can leverage those strengths and weaknesses to gain a competitive advantage. – Kristin Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

11. SPREAD YOUR MISSION WITH INNOVATION.

There is an option to do both. Entrepreneurs should continue to ensure that their original business mission is still represented in every decision and iteration made. However, they should also follow trends and innovative ideas that could benefit their employees, partners and customers. Embrace and celebrate challenges of approach. – Jason VandeBoom, ActiveCampaign

12. BE CREATIVE.

Entrepreneurs don’t make the status quo—that’s why they’re entrepreneurs. The urge to create, innovate, make meaning and impact, uncomfortable as it may be, invites founders into a state of perpetual beta, and along with them, the very venture they build becomes an engine of Evolution. As Bob Dylan famously said, those not busy being born are busy dying. – Jonathan Fields, spark efforts

13. CONTINUE TO EVALUATE IMPROVEMENTS.

There should be a balance. Leaders must commit to pursuing current initiatives while seeking avenues for innovation. Innovation can come from a myriad of areas: work culture, leadership, technology, and customer experience. It’s important to constantly evaluate where you can improve. Finding the ideal segmentation between status quo and innovative change is critical to continued success. – Matthew Tengwall, Verint systems

14. TAKE “BIG VIBRATIONS OF THE BOLD”.

I think entrepreneurs are born to innovate. For an entrepreneur, staying the course means continuing in the face of the unknown, which I call “big swings of bold,” even when things fail, even when it’s uncomfortable. Here the limits of growth, evolution and progress coexist. – Leigh Burgess, Bold Industries Group, Inc.

15 CHANGE YOUR COURSE IN THE MARKET.

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