The mistake a lot of creative would-be entrepreneurs make is that they believe they only need to have a good idea and the ability to realise it in order to launch a successful business. Sadly, a good idea -- even a great idea -- is not sufficient. In order for a business to succeed, it needs to deliver value to customers; value that is valuable enough that customers will happily part with hard earned money to buy some of that value.
Where does the value come from in a creative business? Your mind of course! With a healthy dose of inputs and inspiration, you can build an idea into a creative vision for a product or service. In order to make the idea happen, you probably need some raw material and a process to turn your vision + materials into a product or service. (see the diagram above)
So far, so good! But there are two more things you need in order to sell successfully your product to customers: value and innovation. Let us look at each.
Let us imagine that you are a handy carpenter. Through learning, you know how to make things with wood. Through creativity you can visualise and design furniture. Through experience, you have seen inspiring works by other carpenters and examined those works to understand them better.
As a result, you have the ability to take raw materials -- such as wood, nails, screws, hinges, knobs and such things -- to which you apply your carpentry knowledge (the process) to make all kinds of things with wood.
Now you might have an idea to make really cool, engraved wooden tyres for cars. The idea might be great. The tyres might look marvellous. But they are unlikely to be better in any practical way to existing rubber tyres. So, no matter how cool this idea is, it does not provide value to customers. It is not a viable business.
On the other hand, you could use your knowledge to make elegant cabinets that look beautiful and provide practical storage space. These are far more likely to provide value to customers. So, although not as creative as engraved wooden tyres, making elegant wooden cabinets is a viable business idea simply because it has value potential that the creative idea does not.
Of course, value need not be limited to utility. Games deliver entertainment value. Decorative artwork delivers aesthetic value Naughty pictures and videos deliver a different kind of entertainment value.
However, offering value alone is not enough.
In order to compete in very competitive marketplaces, you need to deliver value that is unique; it needs to be better than other products and services in your market. In other words, you need to be innovative in how you deliver value.
If there are a dozen talented carpenters in your town, setting up shop as the 13th talented carpenter is unlikely to lead to success unless your products are different in ways that deliver unique value to customers. You could, of course, sell the cheapest products and that can be a viable strategy, but it does not make it easy to make a profit. Better would be to deliver value in innovative ways that leave customers happy to pay you more than they would pay the other, conventional carpenters for similar products. You might have a unique decorative style. You might work with a special wood that is more durable. You might make furniture with unusual features, such as integrating technology with traditional craftsmanship in order to make tables that clean themselves.
If you are the only one in town who can deliver that unique value, you have a recipe for success!
However, it is essential that the innovation results in value to customers and not pure novelty. As we have noted, engraved wooden tyres may seem innovative -- but they do not provide value.
If you can deliver unique value to customers, value in the eyes of your customers, they will pay you for that value, thus providing an income that can be used to continue providing value to customers as well as to provide a living for you.
It's as easy as that!
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