Emerging Entrepreneurs and Recycled Ideas

Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur these days, or at least it seems that way. Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about the pitfalls of entrepreneurship—as well as the lack of breakthrough ideas, the pace of business today, and how it all fits together. This came up for me at several events I attended recently. During the Women: Inspiration & Enterprise Symposium, many of the motivational speakers said roughly the same thing: know what you want, love what you do, stay in control of your vision, use fear as motivation, take care of yourself, trust your gut. This is great advice for emerging entrepreneurs who have never heard it before. But for everyone else, it was review—nothing particularly new or fresh or bold. A second event on entrepreneurship, held locally, felt the same way: it covered basic topics like how to start your own business and how to find capital.

These events happened right around the passing of Steve Jobs, and the timing had me reflecting about ideas new and old. I remember thinking: What now? Who’s going to step up with the next big idea? Is there enough visionary ability out there to produce something new?

I want to seek out the next big idea in my own work. Because everything in business moves so fast, it’s easy, as a graphic designer, to simply recycle old ideas and get them out the door. But how do I find that next big idea? What does it take to do outstanding work? The first step, for me at least, is to slow down—to relax, look at others’ new ideas, play with new ideas of my own. This is why I signed up for an art class: to get the time to recharge and renew my thinking. Otherwise everything becomes a blur.

In our ultra-fast world, are there enough people slowing down often enough to keep the flow of ideas moving? This is especially important for entrepreneurs, whose entire future depends on the “wow” level of their ideas.

Then there is the question of who should be involved. At KJCG, we constantly talk about the Four Corners Breakthrough: the idea of bringing together everyone connected with an issue—people of different roles, functions, levels, experiences, backgrounds, etc.—to get a 360-degree vision of the situation. That often results in better ideas and solutions. It may even be true, as Fred Miller wrote last year, that the larger the crowd, the greater the chance of its arriving at a breakthrough.

On the other hand, some of my best ideas come when I’m alone and have a minute to think for myself. Entrepreneurs often work alone as well, or maybe with a couple of partners. Maybe the bottom line here is to ask ourselves is how we arrive at the best thinking to accelerate our success.

Entrepreneurship is a good thing. But entrepreneurship needs great ideas. In fact, our world needs great ideas—a lot of them. If we slow down enough, and position ourselves (alone or with others) to do our best thinking, maybe we can generate the breakthroughs we need.