Innovation, Focus and Success

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Many people want to be successful in life. At something. Chances are, you want to be successful in the business you are creating. 

Which bears the question: how do you define success? 

Is it a number?
An amount of money you end up with at the end of the year?
Is it the amount of leasure time?
Is it the amount of vacation you can take per year with your business still running while you are gone? 

For me it’s a mix of all of the above and more. One important aspect of success though in my view is sustainability. I consider my business a success when the brand has been established and the business is running well (i.e., making profits) each year over the course of several years. 

Many people – and I agree to some extent with these people – consider innovation to be an essential part of such success. That innovation can have many different faces … when eBay came out, it certainly was an innovation. Whether intended or not is irrelevant. The iPhone was an intended innovation. Sometimes something as small as the packaging or the presentation of a product can be an innovation that sets the brand apart from the competition – if there is one at all. 

The ultimate innovation is a product or service that has no competition (if you are unfamiliar with the Blue Ocean concept google it, it’s worth it). 

The best innovation however is worthless, if you never deliver or if you deliver too late. Alexander Graham Bell was not the first person to work on transferring speech over long distances, but he was the first to deliver. Many entrepreneurs I know (and I am guilty at times) love to dwell in creation, in building, in “working on something”. If you do that, you are missing the point of being an entrepreneur, which is to deliver something for the benefit of others, which in turn produces your revenue. 

Seth Godin makes an excellent point in this short talk on focusing on shipping.

Speaking about focus – if you don’t focus, you delay delivery (shipping) of your product or service.

“Focus is saying ‘no’ to 1000 things.” – Steve Jobs

And as Jony Ive stated, it’s not just saying ’no’ to the things you are not interested in doing anyway. You gotta be willing and ready to say no to things that matter but that don’t forward your business or cause in the way the one thing does that you focus on.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything” – Warren Buffett

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