Jens Ruesink: You can't innovate alone
  • Innovate

You can't innovate alone

As NOM, we are exploring new ways - innovation - to get in touch with customers. ''Because just visiting is no longer an option,'' says investment manager Jens Ruesink. He therefore provided the content and presentation for a webinar on the opportunities and risks of innovating in times of crisis.

Importance of solid northern ecosystem

The big takeaway from Ruesink's recommendations? Looking sharp, daring to ask questions and, above all, not thinking you're the only one with a problem. ''Just talking about the situation can help,'' Ruesink knows. ''You can't innovate on your own.''

Because sometimes it is about money, sometimes about facilities, sometimes about sales, sometimes about logistics. The challenges are countless and varied. As NOM we have an interest in a solid northern ecosystem and so it suits us to help entrepreneurs along the path of innovation. Ruesink: ,,It is often customized work. We know the ways. We help start-ups, but also SMEs. Money alone will not get you there. Money is a means and not an end. What it's really about is taking steps.''

Blog on innovating in times of crisis

With the webinar, we as NOM try on the one hand to connect with northern entrepreneurs, but also to draw companies' attention to everything that is already there. For example, there are our own (e-)magazines and knowledge blogs, allowing entrepreneurs to seek their direction through the NOM website.

Jens Ruesink also posted a blog there about the opportunities and risks of innovating in times of crisis. No clear ambitions, lack of focus, the team, it all passes by. Entrepreneurs can go there for tips.

One finds it exciting, the other sees opportunities

''It's a whole new era,'' Ruesink reports during the webinar. ''Covid is turning life upside down, the world is changing. Just the fact that I am standing here now for a webinar. I wouldn't have dared to think that a year ago either. But if we look around us, everything is different. We work from home, logistics have changed, raw materials and parts are not always available, these are just a few examples. And the situations differ from sector to sector.''

It's all about agility and flexibility, Ruesink believes. Some entrepreneurs find it all exciting, others see opportunities. In any case, Covid provides innovation; sometimes forced and occasionally an opportunity is seen. Ruesink: ,,Innovation is of here and now, it will be of greater importance in the coming years.''

Not continuing in the old way

A survey by consultant McKinsey shows that 90 percent of entrepreneurs expect the way they work to change fundamentally. And only 21 percent of entrepreneurs say they have the resources to deal with it. Ruesink: ,,That means that the largest group does not know how to deal with it. What is certain is that many companies cannot continue in the old way.''

More costs and lower sales force entrepreneurs to innovate, but Ruesink says more roads lead to Rome. For example, agreements can also be made with debtors and creditors. That may not be innovation, but it is a step to life preservation in order to innovate afterwards.

Fast horses instead of car

Organizing your own feedback is also an important step for entrepreneurs, Ruesink believes. Does your service or product match the analysis you've made? What can be done differently? These are questions every entrepreneur should ask himself and partners. ,,Although you can't always rely on a customer's opinion,'' the NOM investment manager knows. ,,Take that famous movie in which people are asked if they would ever want a cell phone. And Henry Ford once observed that if he had asked customers what they wanted, he should have delivered fast horses.''

Entrepreneurs, especially SMEs, have the greatest difficulty getting out of their own tunnel. They run faster and faster and don't look around. ''Just yesterday I came to someone with whom I had agreed to meet for two hours to see where there was room for innovation, but who reported to me that they didn't have more than an hour,'' Ruesink says. ''Give everything time, give it space. Make sure you have a good mix of realism and opportunism. You do have to give some things a chance. Potentially successful innovations need that chance.''

Response in the form of tips and inspiration

And taking risks is part of it, too. ''Sometimes you have to, otherwise you won't get anywhere,'' knows Ruesink, who hopes the webinar will generate a lot of response in the form of inspiration and tips. The first reactions were there right after the event. Ruesink: ,,It is successful if entrepreneurs become aware of their future and start thinking about renewal. That they take a critical look at their own business.''