I was explaining to someone on Friday the difference between how we approach Entrepreneurship activities vs. how others approach it. I explained that other entities are “Market Driven” where there is an intense focus on existing markets and how to create solutions to better meet those market needs.
I was just starting to explain how listening to the customer was key to unlocking potential innovation opportunities when this person quickly interjected “bullsh_t!”.
Which, of course, stopped me in my tracks.
He went on to explain… “Your job isn’t to listen to the customers or be market driven – you are supposed to be helping create what wasn’t previously created and inventing solutions to which no market yet exists! You should be DRIVING the MARKET… not being MARKET DRIVEN!”.
…. Insert momentary pause…
He was right. True innovation doesn’t necessarily fit into existing markets and one shouldn’t be limiting their creativity to existing models and preconceived notions otherwise our innovations will be incremental at best.
Thus highlights one of the toughest balancing acts for an Entrepreneur. How to balance blind inspiration to create something truly unique and customer validation to make sure what you are creating will ultimately deliver value?
No easy answers on this one. It’s a subjective call at best. You have to have intense passion about something, to perceive when others are saying it won’t work, yet the ability to periodically seek outside validation to make sure you aren’t as crazy as you are starting to believe.
Ultimately, pushing the envelope and moving innovation forward is an iterative process where you put your head down for periods of time and push then stop, lift up and look around for feedback and then back down again you go!