How New Entrepreneurs can avoid Innovation Failure

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The biggest fear of any entrepreneur is to create a product or service that will fail in the market. The risk of losing an investment or customers to competitors

sometimes hinders entrepreneurs from making an attempt to bring new ideas into the market especially when stories of failed innovations abound, and the environment is very business unfriendly.

You have gained sufficient knowledge about a business or project of your interest, you have a new idea and a unique value proposition you consider wow! You know you are ready to start up a business however, you still have fears you are yet to conquer-the fear of the possibility that your new idea may fail.

Innovation failure occurs in both large and small organisations, developed and developing economies, and no one is immune to it whether you are an experienced or young entrepreneur. They all have their share of ‘great’ new product or service idea failure. Many factors may be responsible, but for those who are fresh in business, overcoming your start-up or new idea fears will require that you

1. Ask tough questions on How your innovation will a reality
Questions helps you identify your fears, probe every detail on the workability of that idea and sharpen your innovative ideas. Ideas come with a lot of excitement initially, but such excitement begins to shrink as tough questions on how it will become a reality begin to pop up. Questions such as how is this innovation unique? How will it be developed into a product? How will it likely be received by the market? How will it get to the market? etc will move your idea from the ‘Wow!’ stage to the ‘How!’ stage because in the end, customers will only be interested on the ‘How’. Asking the right questions and providing answers helps you refine your ideas into an innovative product.

2. Provide sufficient reason Why that innovation is needed
Nobody will buy a product simply because it is new. There is always an emotional part of customers that play an important role in deciding what to buy. Successful innovative products have something in common, they have enough ‘Why do I need this?’ Netflix is successful because it provided the reason why customers need an on-demand video rental. Your innovation must provide a clear reason why customers will need it.

3. Consider all stakeholders as you innovate
Your innovation needs other stakeholders to survive. No customer would love an innovation with an extra cost for instance; imagine a company coming with a new operating system for mobile phones. The company will need to provide sufficient reasons why customers will have to do away with their phones for a new one, or why manufacturers will adopt such OS for their products or why vendors will give such phone a shelf space in their stores same consideration goes for app developers, competitors, suppliers etc. Each of the stakeholders has what it takes to render your innovation irrelevant. Getting to know what is in it for each stakeholder helps you to incorporate their concerns into your innovation.

Often, we are told that failure of a product is not as important as the lessons taken away however, not all failures have a positive outcome. Eric Ries noted that nobody goes into business to learn lessons from failure - there is no space for such in the balance sheet. That is not ruling out the place of learning in business, however as a new entrepreneur, necessary precautions need to be taken when innovating to forestall avoidable errors.

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Ofunre Iriobe

Ofunre Iriobe is a researcher, and facilitator at the Redeemer's University Entrepreneurship Development Centre. He is also a private consultant to young aspiring entrepreneurs.

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