Don’t Innovate Yourself Out of Business

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Engineer | Owner | CEO | Ed Page | 2Fold | Steel | Small business

How It Happens & How You Can Avoid It

Innovators are the ultimate optimists. They seek to make things more functional, productive, and resilient.  Many of these innovators are entrepreneurs. By nature, entrepreneurs are individuals or small groups often with limited resources.  An innovator’s greatest danger is allowing their creativity to get ahead of their resources. Small operations have small budgets and limited funding. Additionally, they may have just a few soldiers to pursue the conceiving, engineering, testing and execution of the potential solutions.  Lack of funds or co-developers leads to limited investigation and a constant cash drain. This drain will continue until the solution is either properly funded or starts generating income. The innovation creates value only when it generates more cash than it costs to produce. If the decision is to go it alone without professional funding, there are limited ways to support both the development and commercialization of the new idea or widget.

Does Funding Guarantee a Product’s Success?

The game is not over once the solution is found, it is just beginning. In order for a product to be successful a number of components are required. For instance,

  1. Market Understanding
  2. Determining whether the product can be contract manufactured
  3. Investing in samples and promotional activity to build awareness
  4. Taking the product to market

The fun for innovators is often the challenge of creating the perfect product or solution.  The fact of the matter is, there is no perfect solution.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

If the innovator is not a careful planner, the timing of every single crossroad is a surprise. Surprise means the odds of a favorable outcome becomes less and less likely.  Calling in a gatekeeper associate (advisor) can help tilt the odds in the innovator’s favor. The gatekeeper’s responsibility is to keep the project on task. They must also consider the potential of the innovation and the resources that are and will be available.

Innovation is driven by curiosity and emotional energy, while Gatekeeping is driven by order and discipline.

Gatekeepers and innovators are part of a business ecosystem that requires a balance between the opposing perspectives.  They are working toward the same big-picture goal, but see one another as the enemy. “If I only had more money, time, and support, I could make this thing perfect,” is the mantra of the creator.  Gatekeepers of the bean counting variety believe that enough is enough. It’s time to generate cash from this thing from earnings, borrowings or investment. This battle is compounded when a small, underfunded company creates an innovation. They take it to market but don’t allow enough time to for the creation to reach full maturity in market appeal, engineering, and production. This limits the profit and cash flow needed to be successful.

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Often a second or third new opportunity to innovate presents itself during the launch. Then off we go with emotional energy and not enough wherewithal to handle a sister product.  Where is the adult in the room to say, “Be patient, young grasshopper. Your second opportunity to shine will come after we more fully nourish the first one.” We innovators hate the adult in the room because they stifle our creativity. However, when we let them do their jobs, they allow us to achieve the greatest amount of success. They teach us that patience is key. It took me several failed companies to learn how to be patient.

2fold® was created to be patient and was built in this stepwise format:

  1. Create an innovative thermal steel window and door system,
  2. Test it,
  3. Develop state-of-the-art engineering software,
  4. Build a production team of managers and sub-contractors to build our products right every time, and then
  5. Take it to the market.

Following this protocol has come at a huge investment of personal, financial resources. But the growth of sales that continue will be under control.  Proof of concept and proof of process allow me to sleep at night knowing that time will yield success. There is no rush. So, bring it on! We are ready for you with your project’s success as our single focus. 

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