As I mentioned in an earlier post I’m enrolled in, and enjoying, an online course – https://www.coursera.org/ – from University of Maryland, by Dr. James V. Green – “Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship.” I’ll be sharing some helpful information from this course and continue to share the successful actions (and, of course, not so successful actions) from my perspective as a Working Inventor.
I typed ‘innovate’ into Google and this is the definition that appeared: “make changes in something established, esp. by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.” While this sort of sums up the subject, there are many types of innovations, and knowing them will help us all take this Google definition and expand our observational and development horizons.
Dr. Green lists seven (7) types of innovations. I’ll list three of them: Organizational Innovation, Service Innovation, and Product Innovation.
“Creation or alteration of business structures, practices, and models, and may therefore include process, marketing and business model innovation.
• Avon’s customer-based sales force”
If you look at the space of business you’re in, do you see opportunities to create a more streamlined work flow? Are there systems and procedures that you personally use, that if implemented department wide, would increase productivity and profits? When we start considering these different types of innovation categories, our problem solving abilities grow.
According to Wikipedia, the organizational innovation that was/is Network Marketing began as early as the 1920’s, or perhaps as late as the 1970’s. Now there is an innovation… recruiting people to sell an opportunity – to sell an opportunity in the hope that their ‘downline’ will sell the very same opportunity. Of course there is a product or service involved, and those products and services are, many times, helpful and useful. But the real point here is the innovative mind that sat down and sorted out not just the product or service to sell but the payout schedule and the pitch to the prospective recruit.
**I am not bashing the industry. Many of my friends do EXTREMELY well as Network Marketers. My only point here is the INNOVATIVE thought behind the business model.**
There is a fun episode (Season 8 – Ep 84: Easy Money) on Youtube. I am not linking the video because there is full nudity during the introduction of the episode. Having said that you’ll see the frenzied nature of the business model innovation.
“Similar to product innovation except that the innovation relates to services
• Zipcar car rentals”
I was introduced to an amazing service recently – uber.com – a door-to-door chauffeur/taxi service that responds by way of an app and locates you via the GPS on your smart phone. What a great Service Innovation – and you get to arrive in style… Their cars are very clean and classy.
Recently I had, what I think is, a bright idea. Largely this idea for a house and office cleaning service would have to stand on its name, House Call Cleaners. Of course the competition in this space of business is plenty. The question then became… How can I monetize those tree words? “House Call Cleaners.”
Here’s what I’m doing. I’m finding either out of work professional house cleaners, boutique hotel service personnel with limited hours, or existing house cleaning companies to work with, and setting up agreements – it looks something like this… For the out of work house cleaners and those service employees needing more hours, I am vetting them and arranging agreements with them in their local areas to respond to house cleaning requests via an app in production. For the existing house cleaning companies I am setting up affiliate programs so I will be able to refer their services in areas I don’t currently service, and then of course collect a referral fee. It’s in development but the plan looks solid right now. This will certainly be an innovation on two fronts, 1) I’ve found idle capacity in an industry – out of work house cleaners, and 2) I think my tag line is fun and compelling – “Champagne Cleaning for Beer Money!”
“Introduction of a new good or service that is new or substantially improved
– May include improvements in functional characteristics, technical abilities, ease of use, or any other dimension
• Apple’s iTunes”
Keeping in mind inventions are not always ‘traditionally’ manufactured durable goods, the sky is the limit. If you look for activities that can be made more pleasurable or systems and ‘tools’ that can streamline a process, you’re in the position to present it to industry.
I was told once by a plumbing manufacturer/distributor that their new products usually come from the ‘field.’ In other words, plumbers would solve a problem while on the job and present that solution to this plumbing company. The plumbing company would license and manufacture the product and sell it to supply houses and home improvement stores – paying a royalty to the plumber. The point here is that if you look around you, in your space of business, there are problems to solve, systems to streamline… Money to make.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net