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Fast Five with Nathan Baird

Stories

Nathan Baird is the author of Innovator's Playbook: How to Create Great Products, Services and Experiences that Your Customers Will Love.

He took five with SSE to give his best advice for young entrepreneurs and explain why creativity is an essential part of great innovation.

What separates successful startups from the rest?

There are always exceptions to the rule, but they usually have the following traits

  • They focus on a growing market (so not one in decline) or a mature market that is ripe for disruption (e.g. taxi industry, hotel industry)
  • They focus on the customer
  • They challenge the status quo
  • They create value
  • They have a great multidisciplinary team
  • They have great mentors

And maybe most importantly, they have a bias towards action. In other words, they hustle.

Where should young innovators start on their entrepreneurship journey?

There are two approaches I’d suggest.

First, start with a passion area, like cycling or surfing or whatever you are into. Then, through user observations and interviews, identify some untapped needs and pains points. From there you can get into ideation and the rest of the startup journey.

Alternatively, start keeping a diary of everyday things that annoy and frustrate the hell out of you. Then, check if these things frustrate people other than you. If yes, you could be onto a problem worth solving!

Nathan Baird 2

It’s better to fail early and cheaply than later and more expensively.

Nathan Baird Author of Innovator's Playbook

What’s the most common mistake young entrepreneurs make when starting out?

Falling in love with their idea(s). Remember, people buy products and services to satisfy a need or solve a problem. By starting with people’s problems, you’ll save yourself a lot of anguish, time and money!

How important is creativity in success?

Hugely. Without creativity, there are no ideas and without ideas, organisations and the people within them will stagnate. People are also at their happiest when they are being creative (check out the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi for more on this)

What’s your best advice about the innovation process that young entrepreneurs should be thinking about?

It’s better to fail early and cheaply than later and more expensively.

Don’t try and be all things to all people. Choose your customer niche, but make sure there is a market in the niche.

And lastly, innovation is a team sport. Don’t feel like you have to go it alone.