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January 20, 2022

Entrepreneurship as a difficult journey is a conversation that has been had many times, but how does an entrepreneur weather the storm until their startup finds steady growth? How do you handle the herculean task of charting the course and dealing with challenges as they come? By expecting the unexpected.

There are some aspects of entrepreneurship that are somewhat fixed. The continued tasks of managing talents, setting goals, tracking goals, and making sure that the bills are paid on time are all things that you should expect as an entrepreneur. But in terms of dealing with the market forces, adjusting as the market changes, and continually recalibrating your strategy to meet customer needs; you can never fully anticipate everything that will come your way. The answer, therefore, is to expect the unexpected and build agile teams that can react the same way.

Thought leaders within the entrepreneurship space often place a premium on learning from your failures as you go, but we all know that is easier said than done. There are some failures that will essentially put you out of business. Therefore, one can posit that the way you react to failure sometimes can make or mar one’s business. Taking failure on the cheek and then finding a way to solve that problem is the hallmark of a successful entrepreneur. Elon Musk said it best when said, ““There’s a silly notion that failure’s not an option at NASA. Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.””

The point he makes about innovation is very important as the greatest businesses and solutions around the world have been built because of the founders or team prioritising innovation. 
Innovation is one of the best ways that an entrepreneur can prepare for the future. Facebook, Google, Tesla, Amazon and other companies that have grown from startups to Fortune 500 companies have done that by innovating. So, what exactly is innovation?

What Is Innovation
According to Wikipedia, “Innovation is the practical implementation of ideas that result in the introduction of new goods or services or improvement in offering goods or services.”

Toolshero in its definition says, “Innovation is not just represented by introducing or implementing new ideas or methods. The definition or meaning of innovation can be defined as a process that involves multiple activities to uncover new ways to do things.”

Merriam Webster notes that innovation “can refer to something new or to a change made to an existing product, idea, or field.”

From these three definitions, we can deduce one central idea: innovation is the process of creating new solutions or improving existing solutions to bring about new, and easier ways to do things. Innovation is finding the gap in the market before your competitors do. It is taking bold risks to satisfy customers while your competitors fret. It is the best way to confront the unknown- taking it by the horns.

How To Become More Innovative

Surround Yourself With Inspiration
If you want to become more innovative, one of the first things to do is to surround yourself with more inspiration. What and who inspires you? It is better you surround yourself with that so that you can be stimulated. Innovation thrives on inspiration, therefore, it is a no-brainer to surround yourself with those things that typically inspire you.

Think Out Of The Box
It is very easy to tell people to think out of the box, but it is a tad bit difficult to execute it. Thinking outside the box is a learnt behaviour rather than a spontaneous trait. The more you train yourself to become more innovative, the more innovative you will become. To think outside of the box, endeavour to think critically before making a decision. Examine your ideas from different angles before deciding which one is best to execute.

Get Out Of The Box
Getting out of the box entails stepping out of your comfort zone. Sometimes we are confined to a space and do not understand that our physical spaces sometimes can limit the way we think. Take a walk, go for a hike, change your environment and sometimes you can quickly realise that a change of environment does so much good. 

Research
Another way to stay innovative is by researching. Researching helps you understand things and see the loopholes that exist in the market or your product. Researching also means you taking customer feedback as an entrepreneur, and analysing it to understand customer needs. For it is in so doing that you can create innovative products that truly fulfil needs.

Observe & Document Everything
The last point touches on this lightly, but we have to explain it more for emphasis. When you are running a business, it is very easy to get caught up with the day-to-day to the extent that you don’t pay attention to the customers or the business itself. The truth is that if you truly want to be innovative, you have to put measures in place to observe everything going on with your customers, your business and the market. When you do that, you will realise that you are always at the forefront of innovation.

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Conclusion
Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey most times. To succeed as an entrepreneur, one has to prepare for the unexpected. One of the easiest ways to stay ahead of the curve as entrepreneur is to embrace innovation. With the points highlighted above, you can develop your innovation capabilities.