There are multitudes of ways to solve the same problem. How in the world do you choose which one to use?
What do you consider? Which tools will use? Every innovator has asked themselves these questions. Here is how I answered them.
The Wrong Way
Falling in love with practical innovation is really like a free fall from a storied building. You keep falling until there is no more height for you to fall, so you hit the pavement.
What this means is that once you fall in love with practical innovation, you should be ready for very drastic changes. Some of these changes will seem painful but remember, pain is an opportunity to innovate a solution.
The Problem I had to Solve
After falling hard for practical innovation, my job at the small startup turned into ‘not innovative enough’. I thus resigned!
Just like that, I had entered into a world that continuously demands my ‘innovate’ turned on. Jobless and new at it, I rapidly and widely broadcast my resume. The response I got was more terrible than a negative response. There was no response!
Times were terrible during those early days. I kept worrying about rent, food, and the general stuff normal people live on. I was broke and I had to o something about it.
The Solution I Chose
Owing to my modest resources and skills at the time, I decided to start up a blog and monetize it.
Prior to my resignation, I had read about how to earn money online through such blogs. I thought I would survive on income generated through the blog until I got a more ‘innovative job’.
As I applied for jobs from far and wide, I worked on my first blog. To avoid embarrassment, I will not mention its name here. It failed miserably.
The internet was my personal tutor at the time. During the night when internet was cheapest, I would lock myself up in a small room at home and read then do.
I read about WordPress, payment gateways like PayPal and the like. I read a lot and worked even more. I think I did more work after resignation than I did when I was employed.
I got a free WordPress theme, customized it as far as I could. Due to the need to customize the theme, I had to read more about child themes, CSS and WordPress page templates. After setting up the skeleton of the blog, I had to start creating content.
In Came the Trouble
It is at this point that things really got out of hand. Content creation is a very artistic and scientific process.
The artistic aspect comes in through the fact the more experience you have with your audience, the better you become at it.
The scientific aspect comes in from the fact that you need to constantly measure the success of your techniques and improve them accordingly. It thus goes without saying that I was in for a very nasty experience due to my heavily scientific mind!
I wrote so many posts, invited friends and family to read them and only got around 1% of these invitees to actually visit my blog.
They all said, ‘Yeah, sure, we will check it out!’ but they never showed up. I was frustrated. All my efforts had been wasted!
I pulled down the blog in anger and have never returned to it. Well, in a way, I have returned to it but not in the same way as I did before.
This time, the blog is just to communicate and not to raise funds. Sure thing, I can add in a few affiliate links but those are a by-the-way.
Why the Solution was wrong
The problem I had was I was broke, or I expected to be in the immediate future. The solution I tried was really not well-thought out. Consider this:
- I hadn’t asked myself if I really had the talent and commitment to write blog posts
- I hadn’t considered how long this proposed solution would take to give me returns on my investment. I mean a blog could take upto a year to start getting decent traffic and yet I had at most a month to go real broke
- I didn’t plan beforehand for the whole project. All I did was plan on the fly. There was no overall vision, mission, or work plan
- I had a selfish goal; I just wanted to get a few bucks to survive
Correcting My Mistakes
Next time I sat down to devise a solution to my bankruptcy problem, I had to think of a solution that had the following qualities:
1. An Interesting Implementation
The implementation of any solution is going to take an emotional toll on the innovator. Such a project will always run into unexpected occurrences; the kind that will discourage anyone.
To get out of such dips, the innovator needs to really enjoy what he/she is doing.
2. A Payback Period I was Comfortable With
Having unrealistic expectations of a solution can stop the implementation of any innovative solution in its tracks.
There is always need to quantify the period when you will start reaping your rewards (whether physical or otherwise) from your sweat.
If this period is longer than your current circumstances can permit, stop. Otherwise you will hate yourself for having wasted all your effort for nothing.
3. Well Planned Out Implementation
The instinct we all have is to get to solving straight away. After all, we don’t want to suffer that problem one second more than we have to.
However, I say, fight that urge. Learn as much as you can about your proposed solution before you start in earnest. Select the best way to implement it.
Choose the tools best suited for your requirements, resources, interests and skills. Through planning, you will be able to select tools that you are conversant with or that you could learn quickly enough to finish the solution on time.
It is also through planning that you are able to answer the question raised in the point above i.e. whether the solution will deliver on time.
4. A Selfless Goal
Most of us have been brought up hearing that if you have more possessions, you will be happier than when you have less.
We therefore catch ourselves, many a time, looking out for only our interests! I’m not sure if this ever works out in other fields but in practical innovation, selfish solutions always fail.
Other people can only use your innovative solution if it serves their purpose and not just yours. However, they will totally ignore it if it does nothing for them.
A good rule of thumb is that when you are considering benefits of that solution, include yourself on the side of your clients and assume someone else is the innovator. You don’t stand to lose anything. Remember you can still be a client to yourself.
If the innovator doesn’t stand to gain but your client does, go right on. After completion of the project, simply become the client and gain.
And Now Where am I?
As a result of the lessons I learnt from my first attempt to run a blog, I am on my way to setting up a Software Design and Development Company called SopherApps.
The company is geared towards helping every common man bring his/her innovative business ideas to life (…and life to the fullest!). All its products and services, are focusing on this goal.
We are working to make it possible for every human being to turn ideas into successful businesses. This, clearly is a selfless goal.
We are sure to succeed because even if we don’t profit as the innovators, we can become our clients and use our products! Genius, right?