Innovate or Die


Innovation is such a pivotal part of running a successful business.

One of the best definitions of innovation is from the economist Theodore Levitt -

“Creativity is thinking of new things and innovation is doing new things.”

Right now, all over the world, every year, month, day, we keep seeing new innovations. New products on the market. Things that have changed the way we do business. Changed the way we communicate with each other. It’s taking people by storm. You see cities growing and booming from innovation.

But in the midst of all of this, there are a lot of people who are being left behind. There are a lot of small businesses who still don’t have websites. There are a lot of communities who are trying to grapple with the huge exodus of young professionals leaving the area. There are people trying to figure out how to keep up. Essentially, the word innovation to them is telling them that everything they are doing is wrong. Everything that got them to being open for 45 years is now completely wrong.

It can be a scary thing. Innovation can be really scare, and I don’t think we talk about it enough. But I would ask you to shift your mindset and think about how you can adapt to the ever changing environment.

Think about when automobiles first came onto the market, when we started using cell phones, when we moved from typewriters to computers. All of these things changed the way we did business and communicated with one another.

Whenever you watch a movie about it, there are always people who laugh at the person who first suggests an innovative idea. But look at Netflix and the death of Blockbuster. Look at Amazon and how they have completely changed ecommerce. Of course this will frighten mom and pop businesses.

But go back to the quote - creativity is thinking of new things and innovation is doing new things. It’s not something that we should fear or resist. It’s something you have to adapt to.

When you see a lot of young professionals leave a community because they want to be in more innovative places, you have to ask, “What are we doing differently to change how we shape our communities and have a more thriving community for people to experience?”

Don’t fear innovation. Embrace it.

Your team should always be working on how to do what you are doing better. You should always be striving toward progress and improvement. Do not shy away from innovation, push toward it.

Yes, with change there is always resistance. Change can be scary and uncomfortable, but change means growth and progress.

You cannot stop the road of innovation. We will never be able to stop it. The people who succeed are the people who adapt to it. Don’t be afraid to think of new things and try new ways of running your business.

Don’t cry out and be angry at the communities and businesses who are growing and getting better. Ask yourself, what can my business do to adapt to this?

If I got into the rut of where I live and how business has always been conducted, then I would not be doing this. This is a new way for me to reach people and get my brand out. Ask yourself that same question - what do I need to be doing now to be ahead of the curve? Is there a better way for me to reach people? How can my business take the tools that are out there now to do what we do better?

Again, do not be afraid of innovation. Innovation is necessary. I heard a quote one day that said, innovate or die. Look at the last five years and the businesses who have gone out of business because they did not embrace innovation. Look at all of the bookstores who have died out.

The question you have to ask yourself is what I am doing that is new? How am I adapting? I guarantee there is an answer inside of you and your team for how to do something better and create something innovative.

Remember, you don’t have anything to fear. Keep hustling hard and keep fighting forward.

- David L. Joyner and the Joyner Media & Strategies Team