How entrepreneurs see things differently

Share these new ideas

I went for a walk near the Braamfontein Spruit with my family from New Zealand and my nephew Daniel, 11 years old, spotted a clump of bamboo, removed one of the bamboo stalks and brought it home with us.

“What are you going to make with that?” I asked.

“I’m going to make a spear,” he said.

What interested me was what a child can see in a clump of bamboo. Whilst most people would merely see the bamboo, he saw a spear, a sword, in that clump. The spear gave him hours of fun and enjoyment.

On holiday in the Kruger National Park, we stayed at a private game lodge. I looked around and saw the beautiful surroundings, in bushveld with the backdrop of mountains that were an ochre colour and slightly blue in the morning sunlight. I got to thinking about the original owner who may have looked at this land. He or she could’ve seen it as an abandoned farm, something to sell and move on or an exclusive private game park. International buyers from Russia and Denmark, for instance have snapped up the properties.

Entrepreneurial innovation or creativity is a highly prized resource, a special way of seeing the world around us. I saw a competition recently with a large monetary prize just to come up with new ideas to revive and renew aging and neglected infrastructure. Good luck to the entrants and may creative vision prevail – something sorely needed in this field where climate-resilient infrastructure is critical.

So how do you cultivate this entrepreneurial vision? There are no pat answers. It’s not something you either have or don’t have. It is something that you can develop. But like anything else it requires thinking differently, time and effort and sheer hard work so that it can see the light of day.

As an initial exercise, next time you go out where you haven’t been before, take a look around, focus on one object and let your imagination run. Artists do this all the time. They see potential for artworks in even mundane settings whether it be landscapes, seascapes or crowds of people. What potential do you see in those things you are looking at? Take a step back. Enjoy what you have discovered. Sleep on it. Let your idea expand. If you don’t come up with anything, don’t despair. Try again. You need to start somewhere.

Entrepreneurial vision doesn’t come suddenly out of nowhere. It requires practice and making it into a daily, life-long habit.

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