A highlight of 2015 for me was going to Boston where I was immersed in creativity and innovation at the Front End Innovation Conference. Amid a myriad of take-outs, I am pleased to report that our advocates of Innovation are ‘on song’, sprouting the same messages and utilising the same techniques as those of our Northern Hemisphere counterparts. We are just a little more frustrated at the slow rate of ‘take-up’.
It’s been a year of conferences for me, travelling to Melbourne and then the States. I have chosen to ‘invest’ in myself, but more on that later. Never underestimate the knowledge and opportunities available to you. I have attended some great events and some abysmal workshops. As a presenter of workshops and a facilitator of business planning sessions I can say that even at the ‘rotten’ ones, I learnt what NOT to do!
I once heard the term ‘Innovate Like an Israeli’. It wasn’t until I attended the Creative Innovation Conference in Melbourne earlier this year that I truly understood what that meant.
Australian start-ups do not appear to be as audacious as those in Israel. Having accessed data by Danna Hochstein Mann, General Partner, Head of Investor Relations, OurCrowd, Israel, I was surprised at how big the innovation divide is between the two countries. And yes our cultural histories have influenced the way we behave, particularly in business. We have a low risk approach, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. A business in Israel is more likely to ideate, plan, prototype, test, iterate, test, iterate and test some more. One in twelve start-ups in Israel reach profitability while in Australia our ‘profitability’ rate is a mere one in twenty.
Of notable concern is the lack of ‘real’ financial support for Startups and entrepreneurs. In Israel, the Start-up capital funding per capita is $120. In Australia it is $4.50 per capita. But before we go pointing the finger at government institutions, financial support should not necessarily be equated solely to government funding. In a few forward thinking countries around the world, big business support small business start-ups, both financially and with mentoring. Governments in some countries also invest a certain percentage of their income into start-ups in much the same way Venture Capitalsts do. We need to look at Business Models that are working and ‘adopt and adapt’. Here’s hoping the Innovation Policy, when it is actioned in July this year, will see more funds flowing for innovation!
And the ‘invest in yourself’ comment I made earlier? It comes down once again to the 80:20 rule. I had a new client a couple of weeks ago, who announced to me that his business looked like taking a financial year loss for the first time ever. That didn’t surprise me as people usually reach out for help at the stage where things aren’t looking so good. His next comment had me trying to mask my raw reaction. They were going to sit it out for another year to “see what happens”. Enter 80:20. You should be reinvesting around 20% of your profit, or at least 20% of your time, planning where you will take your business or at the very least ideating. Would you put your money in a bank account that pays you no interest? Is that any way to get a return on your investment? In businesses, many do not invest in their future. Doing nothing will keep you stagnant – maybe even contribute to a rot…
Innovating doesn’t have to break your bank. Remember, innovation at its rawest, is useful change. Our formula is simple – Ideate, Create, Plan, Prototype, Test and Iterate – and keep testing and iterating until you are ready to go to market.