How to Innovate as an Entrepreneur and Leader
Entrepreneurship Lateral Thinking Innovation

How to Innovate as an Entrepreneur and Leader

According to business magnate and billionaire Mark Cuban, there are two types of entrepreneurs: ‘Wantrepreneurs’ and ‘Willtrepreneurs’. WANTrepreneurs are those people who only WANT to be an entrepreneur because they think it’ll be so glamorous to be their own boss, they’ll earn so much money, they can take as many vacations as they want, and they can show off their shiny status as ‘Founder, Owner, & CEO’ all over their social media.

Meanwhile, on the other hand, WILLtrepreneurs are those who WILL be an entrepreneur, no matter what it takes. They want to do it because they have a burning desire to make their mark on the world or, as Steve Jobs said, ‘leave a dent in the universe’, and they WILL do whatever it takes.

They will face all the challenges no matter what, they’ll work sleepless nights, they’ll take a thousand no’s to get one yes. And the biggest quality that is the distinction between a Wantrepreneur and Willtrepreneur is INNOVATION.

It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This is what wantrepreneurs do. They keep trying the same old, failed strategies and bash their heads against the wall while wondering why they aren’t achieving overnight success yet.

On the flip side, willtrepreneurs try a million different things if it means even one of them will succeed.

When Thomas Edison was in his lab trying to invent the light bulb and people asked him if he was exhausted or disheartened by his failures, he famously said: “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” He is also known for another famous quote: “Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Here are three powerful ways to innovate as a leader and entrepreneur to ensure that you won't lose hope when failures come, but will instead use them as the foundation to build your future successes and achieve greatness.

1.   TURN OBSTACLES INTO OPPORTUNITIES:

The ancient Roman emperor and founder of the philosophy of Stoicism, Marcus Aurelius, is quoted as saying: "Whatever stands in the path becomes the path. The blazing fire consumes everything thrown into it and uses it as fuel. The obstacle is the way".

This advice from millenia ago has stood the test of time, and is just as relevant today. One need look no further than the example of Larry Ellison, who created Java. His story is one of rags-to-riches. Growing up in the ghetto, he faced countless hardships and even threats to his life and loved ones. But he fought like hell and overcame them all and today he is worth $54.5 billion. He used the flames of adversity to forge himself to be even stronger and that is what made him the man he is today.

Learn from this, and don't let your failures dishearten you. But rather, use them as fuel for the fire that burns inside you, to make it burn brighter than ever before.

2.   DEFINE AND UNDERSTAND YOUR CHALLENGES:

Take a long, hard look at all the challenges ahead of you and lay them out clearly, honestly, and fully. Make sure you and your team are fully appraised of them, so that they have no doubts about the road of trials that lies ahead, and are prepared to face it.

Roy T. Bennett writes: "Always believe in yourself and always stretch yourself beyond your limits. Your life is worth a lot more than you think because you are capable of accomplishing more than you know. You have more potential than you think, but you will never know your full potential unless you keep challenging yourself and pushing beyond your own self imposed limits."

This attitude is paramount to being able to face challenges with clear eyes and full hearts. And once you know your challenges, that's where our last tip comes in:

3.   THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX:

Thinking outside the box, also known as lateral thinking, is critical to innovative leadership. According to Edward de Bono, a Maltese psychologist, author, and expert on the subject, "Lateral thinking is concerned not with playing with the existing pieces but with seeking to change those very pieces. It is concerned with the perception part of thinking. This is where we organise the external world into the pieces we can then process."

Here is an example of this type of thinking in the form of a riddle:

There is a man who lives on the eleventh floor of an apartment complex. Every day, he rides the lift down to the ground floor and leaves for work. After coming back from work in the evening, he gets into the lift, and, if there is another person in the lift -- or if it had been raining that day -- he goes back to his floor directly. Otherwise, he goes to the ninth floor and walks up two flights of stairs to his apartment even though he generally hates walking. Why is this?

Stumped? Well, here's the simple answer that will seem so plain and obvious once you hear it -- the man is a dwarf. He can easily hit the ground floor button when he goes down, so that isn't an issue. But when he goes back up, his hand only reaches up until the ninth floor button and he has to climb the remaining two flights of stairs. However, if there is someone else with him in the lift, they can push the eleventh floor button for him. Or, if it has been raining, then he has his umbrella with him, and can use it to push the button himself!

Lateral thinking will enable you and your team to look at challenges from entirely new perspectives that smash the current paradigms of thinking and help you transcend to the next level with unprecedented and unique solutions.

Use these three strategies to innovate as a leader and entrepreneur. This will help you to accelerate rapidly and make new advances at unprecedented speeds. Facebook is the biggest social media company in the world, and it’s easy to see why. Their very motto is ‘move fast and break things’. Now, you might say you don’t want to break things. But what you don’t realize is – things are going to break anyway no matter what you do. It’s better to face challenges head-on and be proactive rather than reactive. Be ready, be willing, be resilient, be smart, be adaptive, and above all, be innovative.