Innovation Recipes

What’s an innovation recipe?

Good question.

Let’s liken creating something new (innovating) or starting a business to cooking something new.

When we set out to prepare a dish we’ve not cooked before, we most likely reach for the recipe book: a recipe being a collection of ingredients of specific quantities and put together in a certain order using certain, tested techniques.

We’re taking that and applying it to starting or growing a new product or business.

Sure, we can make a one ingredient meal – an omelette for instance, it can be delicious in the same way we can dream up a new service and put an ad in the window of our local shop or on facebook, sell it and deliver it.

BUT, I guarantee that if we put one more ingredient in there – a pinch of salt or pepper even, it’ll get better. Let’s go back to our business idea, I guarantee that if we do a little bit of work to understand who our customer is and what’s important to them, we have a chance to create a better ad which will give us more business.

The more care we take in adding the best ingredients in the right quantities, in the right order, the better the outcome.

So, the ingredients are tools that you need to innovate and build a business: market research, strategy scorecards, testing tools…..the metaphorical larder is full of them.

The recipes then are collections of those ingredients designed for certain outcomes. If you’re aiming to build an app, there’s a recipe, which is different to the one that you need if you’re starting a coaching or consultancy business which is different to the recipe that you need if you want to get started in affiliate marketing.

You take the recipe you need, the ingredients (tools) and the follow the instructions and coaching and you’ll build a better product or service faster, with fewer reworks and a greater chance of success.

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5 Challenges for Innovators

There are dozens of challenges that innovators must overcome, but here are my top 5 and what to do about them to get your product to market.

I hope this provides a handy checklist for evaluating the risks for your innovation project, where the real tough spots are in making innovations happen and how to mitigate them.

  1. It’s about the PROBLEM not the IDEA.

    It’s a pretty fundamental one, but innovation, first, is about finding and really understanding the problem then, and only then is it about the idea.

    I see this all the time – we fall in love with an idea then try and find the problem that it fixes.

    Sorry, it never turns out well.

  2. Then it’s about the idea. You have to find an idea. Historically this is easy, ideas are everywhere and anyone who can consider a problem for an hour can come up with possible ideas for solving it. Creativity isn’t hard either- you just need some time to get your thoughts together!

    You’ve got about 60 seconds before my boss walks in the door? Do we want her thinking that she’s surrounded by slackers or do YOU want her asking what new projects our team has been coming up with?! If so then start brainstorming now.

1. It's about the PROBLEM not the IDEA
  1. It’s a pretty fundamental one, but innovation, first, is about finding and really understanding the problem then, and only then is it about the idea.

    I see this all the time – we fall in love with an idea then try and find the problem that it fixes.

    Sorry, it never turns out well.

2. Finding and Validating THE Idea

Ideas are everywhere and anyone with a problem for an hour can come up with some possible solutions, creativity isn’t the hardest part.

3. Developing a solution.

The gap between an idea and a working prototype is HUGE.

So what if you think something can be done, go and do it. Until you can show the manifestation of the idea, it’s still just an idea. But don’t worry- I’ve got your back with these ten tips to help make sure that doesn’t happen:

4. Keeping the focus through uncertainty

The uncertainty of innovation makes it difficult to sustain your efforts. Staying motivated on a project when there’s no guarantee it will ever succeed – especially when there are other commitments on your time can be very hard.

Of course, failing to maintain your focus is never a good outcome!

The key here is to be focussed on the process, not the outcome. I always recommend creating an Innovation Manifesto – a short document that describes the project in a nutshell.

5. focussing on way-Points, not the finish

There’s a very difficult balance to strike between ‘shipping’ the product – finishing the project and moving on and being agile enough to

What I see a lot is that the ‘boss’ wants to see the project finished regardless of whether the original scope has been achieved.

Overcoming negative self talk

Do you ever find yourself in a negative self-talk loop?

How do you break the cycle and get your positivity back?

Use these tools.

Hold Up The Stop Sign
The moment you start to put yourself down, take notice. Ask questions of the other person in your head and imagine their response as a way to catch these thoughts before they turn into words that hurt.

You’re Not Your Thoughts
The way we think about ourselves really doesn’t have much bearing on who we actually are inside – it just has an effect on how good or bad things feel for us as time goes by.

Contain Your Negativity
Sometimes, when we find ourselves engaging in negative self-talk it helps to contain the damage by only allowing a critical inner voice to criticize certain things. This puts limits on how much negativity can come from that situation.

Set A Time Limit
Sometimes looking at things in the long-term helps you realize that maybe you’re placing too much emphasis on something. Will that thing you’re criticising yourself for now really matter in 5 day / weeks / months from now?

Think Like A Friend
When our inner critic is at its worst, it can sound like a bully. Often we’ll say things to ourselves in our heads that we would never dream of saying to a friend. Why not reverse this and—when you catch yourself being negative in your head—make it an opportunity for some self-care by thinking about how you’d share the same words with someone close who really needs them?

Stop Thoughting
This is the practice of stopping repetitive or critical thoughts as they enter our minds by snapping a rubber band on our wrist when we notice them happening or visualizing an image that symbolizes thinking differently (such as picturing a yellow traffic light).

Watch this AI write copy

Watch this AI (artificial intelligence) write a blog right in front of your eyes. It’s absolutely staggering.

The tool in question is called Jarvis from Conversion.AI. I’ve been playing with it for a few weeks now and I’m still in that……”how the eff does it do that” phase.

You can try it out for yourself, here’s a link to a 5 day free trial (although you do have to put your credit card in first).

I’d love to know what you think.

9 Angel Websites to Find Investors for Your Startup

If your idea needs funding, the best place to start is an Angel investor. 

They’re generally individuals who have the ability to provide startups with significant amounts of capital, usually in exchange for some equity in the company.

Unlike venture capitalists, angels don’t often require management or board seats on their investments which means that they can be more hands off and let founders have full control over their companies without any interference from those pesky VCs!

Angel investment is also often called seed investment. It’s designed to grow your idea to either build version 1 of your idea so you can gain revenue, or more typically to get a 1st round of funding. The Angel can then either take their money out plus a profit or stay with your startup.

But how do you find an Angel investor? Here’s some websites that will hopefully make it easier and faster for you go out and nab some of these elusive, yet much needed, funds. But don’t exclude existing networks (it’s ALL about the network!) either locally or on LinkedIn.
As well as using a network to reach out to the Angel, I highly recommend that you research them and try and find, and make a personal introduction to those that seem to match your vision and marketplace before you request funding from one or more of them. Doing your research now will increase your chances of obtaining the funding that you need to grow your startup.
It’s a time for the sniper rifle, not the shotgun!

Try these sites first

Angel List: the world’s largest startup community and marketplace for start-ups A community for start-ups

Angel Investors Network

Seed Invest

Then register on LinkedIn Groups

The Most Powerful Mindset Strategy

My 150 (ish) words of wisdom for today.

And this is really powerful. It’s the way I live my life.. It’s THE most powerful mindset.

Act as if everything that happens is (or will be) for the good.

In doing so, we’re abandoning the notions of failure or defeat.

When something goes wrong, doesn’t work the way you expected or “failed” the outcome other than you expected is just a trigger for another opportunity.

You’ve learnt something new, don’t dwell, armed with that learning, pivot and keep moving.

I’m going to repeat this…..

Act as if everything that happens is (or will be) for the good.

Move forward.

If that seems, well, just too easy….book a session for free and let’s chat it through.

21 Predictions for 2021

Work is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination

One of my favourite quotes: “work is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination”.

When I read that quote I don’t think about the time checking emails, creating work that didn’t actually need doing or catching-up with colleagues (although I think we’re all guilty of those types of procrastination), I actually think about the people go through their whole career working for someone else, making someone else wealthy or helping someone else achieve their aims.

Work IS the distraction from daring to think, “is this enough for me, or am I missing out on something”?

Working for someone else never made sense to me. That’s why I’ve spent most of my career building businesses.

That’s not to say that I don’t completely ‘get’ that people are afraid to take the first step. I’ve had that difficult conversation with my lovely wife more than once!

Fear is perfectly normal and understandable. I have been in their shoes. Increasingly we see people taking the first step with a side income or side-hustle.

The motivation to earn more AND build something BEFORE you take the leap is very compellingg.

Trust me, when you’re building something in your spare time, before and after work and at the weekends, you certainly learn a lot about productivity!

And there are some brilliant and very achievable side-hustles. 

The first has been around for centuries – property investment (whether that’s ‘flipping’ houses or buy to let).

Then there are loads of digital businesses that are easy to start and need next to no money. You can join any number of Freelancer platforms and sell services such as;

– writing (charging per hour to write for someone else and writing an ebook and selling it online)
– voiceovers (if you have a good voice)
– digital marketing
– (and if you have the skills) programming

Or start affiliate marketing (which is where you recommend someone elses product and earn a commission).

There are tonnes of options. You just need to take the leap. Contact me. I can help.


Salt. A lesson in Innovation through Differentiation

Salt is salt, right? It’s possibly the oldest commodity on earth and surely, it’s one of the most abundant minerals. Can we really differentiate such a simple product?

In a previous post I suggested that far from ‘needing’ a brand spanking new idea for a ‘thing’ or service, you actually only need an idea for something that already exists out there in the marketplace, but innovate to make it faster, better, cheaper.

There’s no better example of how we can differentiate a simple product by adding value than salt.

Yep, common old salt. If you thought salt is salt, nothing is further from the truth. Check out the cost per kg from this infographic. You can buy salt from 39p per kg or….nearly £50!

Incredible, isn’t it.

So, if you could start a business, how would you be the £50/kg offer? How do you add that much value to the user experience that people forget that it’s ‘only bloody salt’.

Of course, that’s the role of innovators: to find new, seemingly irresistible value from the mundane.

Choose a product or service — anything as replay the salt infographic;
– can you create value from the (hint of) providence (like the ‘spice cellar sea salt)
– can you make it better / less bad (like the reduced sodium salt)
– can we make it seem much better value / more convenient (like the large Cornish sea salt)
– can we borrow someone else’s value (like the Nandos salt)
– can we change the UX (like the grinder salt)