India has undoubtedly become a hotspot for entrepreneurs, based on the number of companies in the last decade that are three to twelve years old, with 5-10 employees and a similar pattern of growth. A closer look, though, reveals that more than 75% of these entrepreneurs have replicated successful business and service models to serve a large segment of the population or customer target base. In contrast, innovative entrepreneurs create and commercialize new products, services and business practices. While India might have been comfortable applying and executing existing innovations and business models, and rightly so because that was the need of the hour for the last two decades, it might be a good time now to slowly start changing this outlook, in preparation for the future and to ensure we remain globally competitive.
The global economy has been slowing down, but now is not the time to stop innovation and allow competitors gain the upper hand. If there is one big lesson that the last recession taught, it was that consumers were starved for better, cheaper and more exciting products, and innovative companies that could provide these to their customers were able to grow customers and market share, despite the recession.
I am listing 5 essentials that should top your list to ensure you focus on and encourage innovation as an entrepreneur:
1. Vision and goals are key and as an entrepreneur you need to set the tone, foresee the future and take the people working for you along towards achieving these goals.
2. Have a strong customer orientation- Create opportunities for you and your teams to understand your customer’s problems and wish lists better and allow staff to take ownership of problems presented by clients
3. Recruit and reward innovative people and create benchmarks for innovation
4. Take a team approach and encourage open communication and participation
5. Involve partners and others outside of your company in the process of innovation and larger vision
At TiE Chennai, we recognise the importance of innovation and how it can enhance the value of enterprise and spur the creation of new entrepreneurs. Therefore, we moved office recently and are now located at the IIT Madras research park, which is a hub and magnet for innovation by itself. We have also started a special initiative to nurture innovation among entrepreneurs in Tamil Nadu, and are also looking to identify, mentor and encourage innovative business ventures in the future.