What prevents you from starting something of your own?

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What separates the doers from the talkers when it comes to implementing new business ideas?

Sometimes it could just be that some people like the idea of talking about an idea that they want to implement but never get around to doing something about it. Others may justifiably be uncertain about whether they could really pull off starting something of their own or from scratch. Yet others may not be able to handle the uncertainty that comes with entrepreneurship.

Take one would-be small business person who has a number of sideline activities yet has a brilliant idea for a food business but talks about it all the time. Yet he’s never actually taken one step towards starting the business that he believes has a strong potential market. It’s not that he’s lazy. It’s just that when you remind him of the reality of what he needs to do to start such a business, he backs off. Continue reading “What prevents you from starting something of your own?”

How prepared are you to face rocks in the road?

On the road through the Karoo. Photo: Chesney Bradshaw
On the road through the Karoo. Photo: Chesney Bradshaw

On our return journey from holidaying at the coast in Cape Town we came across more than 10 stop-and-go sections on the national highway where we had to wait for a minimum of at least 10 minutes at a time. Our journey was supposed to last 10 hours of driving through the Karoo but ended up being over 12 hours.

The roads from Johannesburg to Cape Town were free of any stop-and-go sections because this was just after the Christmas period. There was little traffic on the road and driving flowed smoothly and easily without any obstacles. Continue reading “How prepared are you to face rocks in the road?”

Turbo charge your innovation in 2012

Hard work, dedication and perseverance are essential qualities for achieving your business goals. In this economy more is required – continuous innovation. Prepare your business for 2012 by considering where you will need to innovate to anticipate and capitalize on changes in your market niche.

Innovation, coming up with new ideas, methods and approaches, has been essential for business and personal growth in 2011, a challenging year for many. Change, whether self initiated or through external circumstances, requires new responses often unshackled from past thinking. Just look back at 2011 and consider the social, political and economic events and upheavals that have often speeded change at unprecedented rates.

For business people change requires the ability to spot and seize the opportunity in the midst of what often seems like never-ending chaos. Change requires the need for new ideas, fresh ways of thinking, often radical shifts in perspectives and innovation.

Courage to create

Most importantly, change requires courage. Rollo May, a renowned therapist, in his book “The Courage to Create” says: “Whereas moral courage is the righting of wrongs, creative courage, in contrast, is the discovering of new forms, new symbols, new patterns on which a new society can be built … In our day, technology and engineering, diplomacy, business, and certainly teaching, all of these professions and scores of others are in the midst of radical change and require courageous persons to appreciate and direct this change.”

This year ideaaccelerator.co.za has offered insights into various techniques to spur new ways of thinking, generate ideas and encourage innovation. Blog posts have covered idea generation tools such as freewriting, closely looked at business models and provided promotional ideas in a challenging economy. Other posts have explored the discipline required to create and form new works of art, businesses and even charities and see them to completion as well as case studies of innovators who have succeeded by using ideation techniques and processes.  

Outstanding results

All through the difficult economic circumstances we have held the new that obstacles and challenges can be surmounted through generating new ideas and spurring innovation. We have assisted small businesses using idea generation processes to achieve outstanding results. We have also witnessed the more successful companies innovating their technology, reformulating products, improving their service offerings, incorporating more sustainable business practices and reaching out to customers in new ways. These companies know that their success and in some cases survival depends on innovation.

Polar opposite of creativity

Yet for many business people creativity and innovation don’t sit well in an environment that has become mechanized on a massive scale. “Mechanization requires uniformity, predictability, and orderliness,” according to May. This is the polar opposite of creativity, which often requires human processes and even unconscious thinking for breakthroughs. New ideas and approaches are a hard sell to the assembly line until of course demand for poor or unsustainable products spirals into a trickle.

That’s why our approach is to work with business people who run their own businesses and who often need to respond rapidly to changing circumstances or face going out of business. Small businesses don’t have deep pockets that can keep them toiling in the wrong direction (sometimes for years); they need to move quickly, come up with smart solutions that retain, build and delight their customers. Staying ahead of their competition, fighting for smaller market niches, requires continuous innovation.

As the end of the year approaches, it is time to relax, reflect and recharge. 2012 will soon bring its unique set of challenges. For those fascinated by new ideas that “pop up” from the unconscious in response to the need to find innovative solutions to changing business circumstances, ways to excite customers or to simply raise their game, we will try to keep you inspired with innovative ideas in 2012.

Win your inner creative war

Creating anything of value requires getting started. But many things can get in the way. Who is the real enemy? What prevents us from achieving our best work?

It’s a problem we all face – getting started. Your idea for a business, a website, a sales letter, a charity, an e-book, a song, a poem, a painting lies dormant in your imagination waiting for you to bring it to life.

Someday you’ll get around to it. Or on the weekend … The weekend comes and goes and you’re still don’t have anything to show for it. What’s stopping you? How can you get started? Why can it be so hard to create what you feel in your bones you can do or long to do?

The answers to these questions and more can be found in a book titled “The War of Art” (not to be confused with “The Art of War, the ancient Chinese book on strategy) by Steven Pressfield (Grand Central Publishing, New York).

Facing the real enemy

In the first part of the book Pressfield defines the enemy: Resistance. “Resistance,” he says, “cannot be seen, touched, heard or smelled.” It can be felt and its aim is to prevent us from doing our work whether it is to launch an entrepreneurial venture, pursue any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, a diet or health regimen and even an act that takes commitment of the heart such as to get married, have a child or weather a rocky patch in a relationship.”

Resistance, or self-sabotage, is often fuelled by fear (a good indicator as it tells us what to do) but has many forms such as drugs, shopping, TV, gossip and consuming unhealthy foods. Just about anything can keep us from starting our work. Resistance can involve the choice of a mate, choosing someone who has it or is successfully overcoming resistance. “Maybe it’s easier to endow our partner with the power that we in fact possess but are afraid to act upon,” he says.

Putting things off can be fatal

Procrastination, when it becomes a habit, can be fatal to our life’s work, putting of things until we reach our deathbed. But Pressfield says we are never without the power to alter our destiny. “This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work.”

Qualities that distinguish the pro

In his chapters on combating resistance, Pressfield covers turning pro which means, among other things, to show up every day, show up no matter what, stay on the job all day, master the techniques of our job and receive praise or blame in the real world. He discusses the qualities of a professional such as acting in the face of fear, accepting no excuses, preparing, not showing off and not hesitating to ask for help. It’s tough advice but turning pro requires discipline and self mastery.

Know the territory

An intriguing concept that Pressfield deals with in some length is that of territory and hierarchy. In a hierarchical orientation an individual competes against others, measures her achievement by rank within the hierarchy and acts for others. The artist, or creator, can’t look for others to evaluate her work. The artist or creator needs to operate territorially which means “he must do his work for its own sake”. Working in the territory, gives birth to the artist’s original creation that add to our lives, regardless of the obstacles faced.

Even though some of the advice can be daunting, I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s not only for those who wish to get started on bringing whatever is important to them to life but also for those who work on projects for weeks, months or even years to bring their gifts to the world.