When I was building my first marketing agency, a trusted colleague of mine tried to explain that we needed more time. My response was to find more people who could help us scale faster. His response was: “Nine women can’t have a baby in one month.” What I took away from that comment was that there is an order and sequence that allows for effective delivery, and having more resources (people) isn’t always the answer to speeding things up.
Innovation is the entrepreneur’s playground. The discipline comes in innovating just one thing at a time. One key purpose of innovation is to create sustainability, and that requires focus. It’s perfectly fine to see multiple opportunities to innovate. The trick is in the prioritization and to create a sequential order around where you spend your time in order to deliver powerful innovation that lasts. Innovation for the sake of innovation is insufficient; it lacks the return on your investment and time because it never gets to the next step of generating income.
So I ask you: What are you willing to say no to? What other projects are you willing to put on hold in order to unleash your full innovation around one particular problem that will deliver substantial revenue for you now and in the foreseeable future? Before you take on more innovation projects, get clear on what must still exist around the current problem you’re looking to solve. What is the opportunity cost of saying yes to even more innovation when the current project isn’t fully baked and ready for the next step of generating income?
Innovation by itself doesn’t move a business forward. The next phase is generating income from this innovation. This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road as you discover if your ideal customers are willing to open their wallets for your innovation.
Great ideas are a dime a dozen. Taking bold action that results in the purchasing of that innovation is what moves a business forward. Powerful and sustainable generation requires deep knowledge and understanding of the needs of your ideal customer. Ideally, this is what will drive the innovation in the first place. That way, when you’re ready to move to the next phase of generating income, you are excited to present how you’ve solved a clearly defined problem that your ideal customer has.
This is your moment of truth — when you discover if your innovation resonates or still needs work. Your customers vote with their wallets every single day. If they reject your innovation, the most important opportunity is to then discover why. Your ability to get feedback and then iterate based on this feedback will allow you to more effectively generate more income.
While all feedback is a gift, not all feedback is equally valuable. After I had launched my second agency, I had two prospective clients give me feedback on a strategic proposal I was offering. As one prospect was my ideal client, I dug deep into what they shared with me — specifically, where my proposal had fallen short and what more they would need to see in order to approve it. The second client was a referral but not my ideal client, and it became clear that their feedback was a thinly veiled attempt to negotiate my prices down. While I listened deeply to my ideal client and immediately turned around precisely what they asked for, I held my ground with the second, knowing that they were unlikely to be happy with what they could afford. Be sure that the feedback you allow into your company is coming from your ideal customers so that you can innovate effectively and generate the income you desire.
Once the elements of innovation and generation have been figured out, it’s time to automate. What is your system and process to scale that innovation and generate a sustainable business behind it? For example, are you using marketing automation in order to message interested prospects rather than allowing them to turn cold by being ignored? Or perhaps you want to scale with Facebook, Google or other forms of measurable advertising. If you’ve already proven there’s strong interest, it’s time to get the word out.
Automation is not a “set it and forget it” mindset. Effective systems should be put in place to constantly monitor how the business side of any innovation is doing and what must change or evolve in order to continue growing. This is why automation is so powerful. Simply put, automation gives you leverage. With minimal effort, you get to keep forging ahead. This is how market domination occurs. The right systems of checks and balances allow for continued growth. This can lead to raving clients who continue to vote with their wallets to buy your products and services.
By having a deeply concentrated effort, focus can be given to build an automated revenue stream that will support sustainable growth. The paradox is that being safe is actually riskier than you think, and being risky is actually safer than you think.
So rather than playing it safe by having multiple streams of revenue that are in the early stages of development, consider going all in on one stream until you can effectively rule in or out. Having one sustainable stream of revenue will empower you to build others in the same fashion. Conversely, launching multiple streams that require you to split up your time and devote fractional attention will result in sizable opportunity cost — even with innovation that is well-defined.