Most entrepreneurs are wired to be creative and innovative. It’s these two characteristics are typically part what makes an entrepreneur successful in building businesses. The challenge can be when an entrepreneur is scaling a startup business and becomes ingrained in the day-to-day operations and putting out fires. This tendency to be drawn to the immediate needs of the business will limit an entrepreneur’s ability to cast vision for the company and remain innovative. Below are three tips for entrepreneurs to remain innovative.
Three Hour Blocks
As a company grows, it can be easy for a founder to fill up their calendar with back-to-back meetings. While it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse for the company, entrepreneurs need to be intentional about blocking off large portions of time to think through the vision of the company or service. By scheduling three hour windows of time each month, you can shut off email, Slack, and any other distractions. Many entrepreneurs even recommend getting out of the office to eliminate the distraction of team members from popping in your office for a question. Remember, as important as the day-to-day is in your company, you likely don’t have anyone else on your staff that is focused on thinking through long-term vision, opportunities, or product improvements.
By surrounding yourself with other entrepreneurs, you can create peer groups that meet monthly to talk through the challenges of being an entrepreneur. Setting up monthly or even quarterly meetings with likeminded people outside of your company will allow you to get a different perspective and insights from others. Using resources like meetup.com or LinkedIn, you can identify groups that already exist or even create a new one.
Write Down Your Thoughts
When an idea hits you during a meeting or over the weekend, create a process for documenting the idea or thought. Whether it’s a notebook, a smartphone app like Evernote, or voice memos, make sure that everything is documented in one place. Having a central resource to look at during your three hour time blocks or when you’re meeting with a peer group will help you stay organized and focused.
Question The Simple Things
While his tone and tact may have been questioned, Steve Jobs created a legacy around questioning every decision and pushing the limit on what his team said was possible. During your meetings with team members, create a culture that allows and encourages asking questions about simple operations. Innovation doesn’t always have to be an earth shattering idea. As your company scales, small innovations in processes can compound and make a significant impact.