Innovation versus product development: do you still count as an entrepreneur if you are not innovative? The topic of conversation in the second episode of NOM Talks, the podcast on topics facing entrepreneurs. From agility to innovation, from funding to employees. Topics covering all phases of entrepreneurship.
We give away the conclusion of this podcast and the answer to the question in the introduction: your shelf life as an entrepreneur is not infinite if you do not engage in some form of innovation. By the way, one could argue that product development is a form of innovation, because the definitions of innovation vary quite a bit. But, that's a discussion for another time. In fact, the conclusion of this podcast is not the most relevant aspect of the conversation between podcast host Wim A,B., sidekick Rob Drees and guests Kees Pingen(Smit Kwekerijen in Sappemeer) and Rinze van der Schuit(Fibremax in Joure). That's the process the foursome discusses.
Because, says Van der Schuit, when host A,B. asks his guests whether entrepreneurs should always innovate: ''A good entrepreneur is never satisfied.'' There is always room for improvement. Pingen gives a somewhat more nuanced answer. ''It doesn't have to, but is most powerful for the future. Not the strongest survive, but the companies that can adapt to a changing environment.'' Good copying Charles Darwin, who - in contrast to the often incorrectly translated "survival of the fittest" - said the same thing in his theory of evolution. Natural selection simply applies to entrepreneurs as well. And these two entrepreneurs know that from personal experience, we hear.
Van der Schuit - following his own example that he talks about in this podcast - throws a third factor into the mix: inventions. These are often confused with innovation or product improvement, he says. 'Completely new and patentable,' that's an invention. The term disruptive falls.
Another such inventor was Otto Frederick Rohwedder. American, born at the end of the nineteenth century. It was the man who developed the world's first automatic bread slicer. Cut bread into equal slices, efficiently and quickly. A gap in the market, you would think. Nothing could be further from the truth. It took no less than fifteen years for Otto Frederick Rohwedder's automatic bread slicer to become a commercial success.
Rohwedder's example comes from one of the most famous in the history of TedTalks: that of marketing guru Seth Godin, titled How to get your ideas to spread. Success is not always about your product, he says, but about spreading the idea and telling the story. Those who want to cause change must persevere.
Faith and perseverance: the most important lesson also from this podcast. Not only when bringing a new product to market (which Van der Schuit says cost him millions), but also in the process leading up to it. It sometimes seems so simple to the outside world: an entrepreneur brings something new to market. ,,You don't wake up with Eureka. A hundred small steps precede that,'' says Van der Schuit, talking about his own invention.
Because when does an innovation make money? You don't know until it can go to market. And when is that? You don't know, because you can't plan the Eureka moment. A sales process, on the other hand, is repeatable, so you can easily attach a goal to it. 'To make X revenue, we will sell Y products at price Z and it is expected to take us a delineated time'. A fixed goal. For innovation, you need "confidence in the right outcome," says Pingen.
Those who want to innovate successfully integrate innovation into all levels of their company. From the C-suite to the shop floor and all floors in between. If innovation is something "special," it never gets the priority it deserves. Innovation is not extra, on the side, but must be built into the business. Because for those concerned with the day after tomorrow, tomorrow comes naturally.
Besides, you can't just tell people, "Do better, innovate! How do you create the ideal conditions to innovate? What does it take to do that? You can hear the golden rules of Rinze van der Schuit and Kees Pingen in the second episode of NOM Talks.
NOM Talks episode 3
The third episode of NOM Talks features Janneke Hadders(Dacom) and Robert-Jan Verheggen(Klippa) as guests. They discuss the ecosystem of startups. The third episode of NOM Talks can be listened to from March 26 via the NOM website, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Anchor, Pocket Casts, Breaker and Radio Public.