- “Everything that can be invented has been invented“. Charles H. Duell, (Commissioner of U.S. patent office, advising President McKinley to close the U.S. patent office in 1899).
We live in a time where more and more ideas are converted into successful outcomes that create value for society. We need people who come up with ideas and new inventions (inventors), but also the people who are able to convert these ideas into successful products, services and businesses (entrepreneurs). Generally both inventors and entrepreneurs are able to come up with new ideas, and share some common characteristics, however, the key difference is that inventors are usually focused on the tangible invention, while entrepreneurs are more focused on the business opportunity. Off course some inventors are also entrepreneurs and vice versa. Inventors are interested in developing a novel product but not necessarily bringing it to market (i.e. commercializing it). Entrepreneurs procure, organize and manage resources (human, capital and other) through a new venture to bring a product to market, without necessarily having invented the product.
Therefore, how can we be more entrepreneurial in spotting patterns and trends, and seizing opportunities that can provide the next breakthrough concept, service or product? The simple answer is that we need to develop our entrepreneurial mindset and the characteristics associated with entrepreneurship.
Following are some of the characteristics of the Entrepreneurial Mind:
- Serendipity – The aptitude to identify opportunities through observation or by accident e.g. Scotchguard, Velcro, penicillin.
- Flexibility – The ability to change your business to accommodate changes in the external environment e.g. business model innovation
- Ingenuity – Possession of original thought allowing new concepts and clever adaptations e.g. Apple iPod.
- Niche picking – Identifying specific customer needs and wants that you can deliver faster, cheaper and better e.g. Dell computers.
- Speed and multiple agendas – Moving through multiple “gates” and “corridors” faster than the competition e.g Microsoft.
- New channels – The ability to notice and exploit expanded or new distribution channels e.g. Amazon.com.
- Hypothetical thought – The ability to re-evaluate an existing product or service through questioning e.g. Leonardo da Vinci
- Comparative thinking – The ability to see what competitors or other businesses are doing successfully and applying these to your business.
- Radical thinking – Developing totally new opportunities that no one else has considered e.g. Apple iPad.
- Action and discipline – Developing an action plan, and having the discipline and commitment to implement successfully.
To achieve the above entrepreneurial characteristics we need to undertake further education, mentoring and on-the-job learning. A great service that can assist inventors to better understand the entrepreneurial process in taking their ideas to market is the AIC’s Inventor Service.
Dr John Kapeleris