Innovation is Doing

“Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.” Theodore Levitt

I saw this quote last night. It is the summation of this article. As a matter of fact, if you can put this quote into action then there’s really no need to continue reading. But it’s hard; isn’t it? It’s hard to take an idea and step out and do it. I believe what holds most people back is fear. Fear of failing, fear of the unknown, fear of being successful even and then following through. But before we can get to the doing, there really is that first step of creating. Let’s get there together.  Really this website that I am working on is a product of this quote, so yes, we are in it together. So, where do we start?

Creativity is Thinking

I am not creative. When I share that with my friends they often giggle because it could appear I am. Nope, not at all! But, do you have to be creative to be creative? Not necessarily in business, at least that’s not what has helped me. I’m a thinker. I think too much actually and often have to take my thoughts captive to focus on the task at hand. The quote begins with thinking. So, are you creative? If so, you probably have an advantage already. If not, no worries, write out your thoughts. Most of us think. Write it all out. This may seem trivial or simple but to get it out of the head is really one step closer to doing it.

New Things

Once you’ve thought about it and written it out, do some research. When I started Trill Fitness for the purpose of producing a CD, I searched on the Internet to see if I could find a Christian aerobic CD. I found one or two videos. I knew I was on to something. Then, when I decided to try online consulting I searched to see what I could find. There were plenty of online services. Why would I do another? What I couldn’t find was one that offered the service along with a registered dietitian and access to real people (not a computerized program). Then it was time for the fitness studio. In my town, there wasn’t anyone doing what I was about to do. I wanted to offer specialized programs (Les Mills programs which I’ll tell you about soon), in a small intimate setting and all group fitness classes and TRX® Suspension Training private lessons. So, what?

I share all of this to say, I did my research. I looked at what was out there. Was my idea new? Was it unique enough that even if it weren’t new it would stand out? Remember, my studio closed. But if you also remember, it wasn’t for lack of creativity. It was financial, an immediate need to help my family. Sometimes our “new thing” is all about timing. Do you hold on to it or do you take a step of faith and do it? I believe (this is my own theory and neither scientific nor researched) that most people only think of an idea. For many even the fact that I gave you an out is comforting. “Oh good, it’s just not the best timing,” or you may have thought, “To start something new you really ought to be at a place financially to sustain it.” Possibly, but may I submit to you that these could potentially be good excuses never to start? Hey- there’s no commitment in writing it down and researching. You haven’t signed any dotted line. But, maybe you should.

Innovation is Doing

Webster’s Dictionary defines innovation as the “introduction of something new”. Wikipedia’s author wrote that the root mean to “renew or change”. In order to introduce, renew or change anything you must do. Dr. Levitt (a professor at Harvard) was correct, now the question is; are you going to be innovative?

You’ve got your idea in your head; you’ve been thinking about it and have written it down. You are doing the research to see if it truly is creative. You’ve discovered that it is or that it’s new enough for your circle or town. Now you are at a cross roads, do you act or do you continue on as if you never had the idea, or do you wait until you see your idea on television being advertised by John Doe? I hate it when people steal my ideas and run with them! You know, Microsoft was my idea and so was the Iphone! Will that be you?  I think about the wheelchair.  I thank God for whoever (it’s unclear and unknown) invented the wheelchair and for engineers like Harry Jennings who expanded on the ideas of the first inventors.

This could very well be you! I’m not trying to get you to do anything foolish. So, yes, doing your due diligence in researching and building a business plan (if it’s to start a business) is wise. But let’s be honest, most of us never quite get to that part. Most of us allow fear to hold us back from even starting. So, today I encourage you to start! Not to be simply creative but to be innovative! And, could you do me one favor, if you do start and it is successful would you let me know. Hey, and if you do start and it is unsuccessful in the world’s eye’s may I encourage you that it was successful, because you overcame fear or complacency and you became a doer! I’d still like to know.

Small Business Closing: Failure or Opportunity?

A Little Background

In 2007 I started an online fitness production business. I produced a CD for group fitness instructors and personal trainers to use with their clients. The goal was to provide clean, Christian focused songs. That venture was the start of my entrepreneurship -unless you count the time I sold baked goods to my neighborhood businesses and neighbors at the age of 12. I have always been a bit adventurous and seem to constantly have big ideas. In 2008 I managed the group fitness instructors and program for a local fitness chain. I did the basic work of a manager but saw more potential and began to implement programs, fundraisers and market strategies (I’ll get into all of that in additional posts). A few years past and I realized that I had been putting a lot of time and energy into another company and it dawned on me, I can do this on my own.

So I did. I started seeking advice from SCORE and a fitness business consultant Bryan O’Rourke and set out on a new adventure. My online fitness production company had evolved into a fitness consulting business (and remains as such) where I provide online personal training to anyone around the world. I took my online concept to a bricks and mortar model. My business was very unique for my area and unique in the fitness industry. I’ll share more about my fitness studio soon. It was a huge success at the beginning. I had a marketing plan that was working well and a support system that was incredible. What I didn’t account for was the failing economy and my families need for me to make money quickly.

The Tides Change

When I tell people my husband’s profession there’s generally a gasp and then a follow up question: “How are you all doing?” I’m sure you could guess- real estate. We all know that the real-estate market tanked and that the effects were/are far reaching. As I got further into my fitness studio it was apparent that I would not be able to make it, not because we couldn’t financially or the model wasn’t right, it was because I couldn’t wait to make money. If you know one thing about a small business it’s that it can take a while (maybe even years) before you begin to see the fruits of your labor. I knew I needed to shut it down and so I began to slowly dissolve the fitness studio.

I’ll be honest, as much as it was humbling, it was a relief. It was a lot of hard work! Anything you do well takes work and I don’t typically do things halfway so I was busy. But I would not trade that experience for anything. I learned a lot, I grew a lot and frankly it opened many doors. The opportunities are endless. I really thank God for my fitness studio closing. That sounds strange, but I do.

Everything’s an Opportunity

Why I can be thankful for what could seem like a miserable experience is because I had the opportunity to learn how to budget, do payroll (as an owner not as a manager), market, hire (as an owner not as a manager), partner with companies, fundraise and give (as an owner), campaign, and manage. It really is different, more at stake you could say, when you are doing these tasks as an owner and not a manager. That list really only scratches the surface. What have I been able to do since: publish articles in local, national and online publications, provide consulting, and collaborate with other fitness businesses and organizations. I am considered a fitness expert. I use that term “expert” lightly. I prefer to be called a fitness industry learner! That’s all I do every day, learn!

Do you have a business that is failing? Do you have a start-up? Are you wondering why this or that is happening? I am a poster child for the word opportunity and believe you are too. Why? Because every venture and even failed venture has a purpose. We may not know what it is as it is happening but we all have a choice: we can either seize the moment to learn and grow and then take what we’ve learned and put it into action or we can throw in the towel and be defeated. I just want to encourage you not to throw in the towel! You have had that opportunity for a reason. Find ways to take what you’ve learned and put it into action.

I look forward to sharing ways to seize opportunities in the near future. Below is a clip of my studio and why I started it.

 

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