The current trend seems to be talking about entrepreneurship and innovation as things anyone can do. Not true.
There is an elephant in the room when we talk about this – the assumption that anyone can do anything. We’re right to be excited about reinventing our economy and moving towards a more knowledge centric economy based on “ideas”. But then there is nothing to say that all of a sudden every one will be able to make the leap in to creating something new, for themselves. I am completely for raising the profile of innovation and innovators, but not even all innovators will be good entrepreneurs (which is a term I hate anyway).
Growing our “ideas economy” is as much about giving the people who will never actively engage with it a better understanding of how it works as it is programs and funding. When it comes down to it, we have to remove the stigma.
Anyone who has taken the step to start a new venture knows the pressure and questions from friends and family. It’s being asked questions like “so, what do you do?” and “when are you going to get a real job?”, on top of the standard “if that could work someone would already have done it”, that holds us back. It already takes a specific and somewhat rare person to want to begin something from scratch, when we push down the few who are ready to do it we chop off our “ideas economy” at the knees.
New is frightening
Most people don’t like new. In fact, a lot hate it. As humans most of us seem to be naturally averse to it, preferring to stick with the safety of the present, and avoiding or actively restricting anything new. I’ve found that with a lot of these people their own discomfort with new extends to what happens around them as well. They then try to influence (sometimes subconsciously) the people who do want to try new things.
What we need to do, as the people who push the boundaries of what is being done and try new ways to see what they will bring, is to explain our approach – the reasons we push for things no one has tried before. By raising the level of understanding we can allay the fear, in doing that we create a greater space to allow ideas and the people driving them to work.
Fear is the most dangerous response an idea can face. It is irrational and brings quick and unmeasured responses. Fear brings out the worst in a situation – immediately causing a negative response from people who can’t identify with a part of it. The key solution for addressing this is to tie the new parts of an idea to existing, comfortable ones.
Only new brings real growth
The problem with shying away from “doing new” is that it limits your growth – it places a ceiling on it. There is only so far anything can develop without evolving or being completely revisited, when it comes to market, social or economic change reaching the ceiling can result in collapse, not just becoming stagnant.
Growth is necessary, failing to grow is the beginning of decline. In most social environments the idea of growth is more easily accepted as a form of change. Framing new initiatives in a growth context will help them be accepted.
Acceptance is the key. As the ones trying new, pushing things forward, we have to tell the story. Every good story starts by setting the scene – sell it from the start and you’re half way there.