Small Business

Think Like an Inventor


Making innovation happen; what you study may not matter in your new business; a 13-year-old's big startup plans; the realities of multilevel marketing; and more

The Essential Ingredients for Technological Innovation

Inventors at a recent panel discussion at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified these three qualities as most essential:

?? creative bent, sparked by "some catalyst" and aided by collaboration. An Israeli inventor says in the Israeli Army "they teach you from day one how to improvise??If the rope is too short, you find the alternative."

??nhappiness with the status quo. "The harder innovators work, the luckier they get," says a second panelist.

??bility to bring two or more existing products or services together to create a third. In Bangladesh, an important recent innovation was exploiting cell phones and microcredit to create low-cost phone service, says a third panelist.

View a video of the session.

College Studies Don't Factor into Business Startups

In a recent study of university graduates in Greece, a highly entrepreneurial country, nearly half of 249 students sampled "report that there is a low correlation or there is no correlation at all between subjects of studies with entrepreneur activity." The authors, Anastasios Vasiliadis and Thomas Poulios, conclude that "qualified graduates unfortunately cannot use the knowledge that they gain in university in their enterprises."

Annual Revenue of $1 Million??by the End of Middle School?

A 13-year-old boy promoted his card game designed to make chemistry fun for his cohorts at a recent Santa Clara (Calif.) entrepreneurship conference, reports VentureBeat. Even before the product is complete, he has 450 orders. Investment required: $100,000.

The Anti-Easy-Success Guy?

In the annals of entrepreneurial stunts, we've heard from the million-bucks-in-a-month guy (see BusinessWeek.com 6/30/06, "A Million Bucks in a Month"), the red-paper-clip-for-a-house guy (see BusinessWeek.com 7/13/06, "One Red Publicity Party"), and now??the anti-easy-success guy? Budding author L.P. Rodriguez promotes a new book, The Easy Road to Success, "as an experiment to discover how many people will buy into the dream only to learn when they receive the book that there is no easy road to success."

A New Take on Multilevel Marketing

Interestingly, Be a Network Marketing Superstar (AMACOM; May, 2007) never mentions the apparently forbidden term "multilevel marketing," even though the book states it's about earning income "both from personal sales and the sales of people you recruit." Using terms like "direct selling" and "independent representative," this book, by Mary Christensen, offers some useful advice about the importance of planning, scheduling, persistence, and closing the sale.

David E. Gumpert covers business/health issues and also writes the biweekly What Entrepreneurs Need to Know column.

Hollywood Goes YouTube
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