It would be nice if the capacity to innovate came with the inception of the organization, if it could be encoded in the genetic material of the building blocks of the components you assemble. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were as simple as, well, walking? But wait: walking is something that we learn; we aren’t born walking, so the organization that isn’t created “innovative” can learn just as we learn to walk.

First Steps …

Walking is only simple once you have mastered the process. As humans, we have to learn to walk. In the animal kingdom, many creatures are born and have to almost literally hit the ground running. In order to survive, they must find their feet within a matter of moments after being born. Moments later they must take their first stumbling steps, and then they must be able to keep up with the herd or pack. It is a matter of survival.

Businesses in Parallel

Today’s businesses are born human and into a competitive world that is very much like that of the animal kingdom: survival of the fittest. Unlike its human founders, the business must learn to innovate (walk) quickly to survive, even when it isn’t in its genetic code. It must also be able to hit the ground running—by competing for resources and customers—to survive.

The business has little time to learn, yet it isn’t necessarily in the genetic code to innovate, so it must learn, and learn quickly. Otherwise the business must acquire the skills from those who already have the capability, from temporary teachers such as mentors and consultants) or on a more permanent basis from employees, advisors, and investors.

Strength to Run

For businesses, it is typical that the founders of the business are technical, technology, or product gurus. They’re experts in their fields of science, innovators, and thought leaders blazing new trails in science, medicine and other revolutionary fields—what they aren’t is experienced business people. These brilliant minds require a team of experienced, knowledgeable, and equally talented business gurus to build a business that has the viability to hit the ground running—to compete for resources and win—from day one.

Recognizing that it is survival of the fittest, getting your brilliant idea funded means getting a business model behind the idea, getting its legs under it. This means getting a clear understanding of the:

•    competitive environment
•    capital (funding) requirements to get to market
•    team
•    customer
•    risks
•    operations
•    business model: how you will make money
•    how investors will make money: the exit

The business that is capable of making it in the competitive environment hits the ground running, and keeps running. It is a business that recognizes that a great idea isn’t enough; it also takes a solid business model and team that knows what it’s doing to make things happen. Time is the greatest teacher, but time is a rare and costly thing when it comes to running a business. It is important to understand from day one that the capability to do business is as important as the product you produce, the service you provide, or the technology you develop. Without a sound business model behind your “product,” the predators will be nipping at your heels and you stand little chance of survival.

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