Business, innovation and creativity are interlinked terms. Business, any business, cannot exist without creativity. The very notion of starting up your own business, take calculated risks and give your best to succeed, is the definition for entrepreneurial creativity. Innovation is what makes the difference, what gives a company a competitive edge, what turns a small “garage” business to a multinational with offices around the world and with billions of pounds in its corporate accounts. Creativity, realized through innovation is what drives our economy, is what capitalism is built on, is what creates companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Dyson and Goldman-Sacks.
Important Role of Creativity and Innovation in the Entrepreneurial Process
Every sector of business and every sector of life is subject to creativity and innovation. If is strange that when the word creativity is mentioned most people think of painters or sculptors or even photographers and when the word innovation is used they think of technological advances, like 3D TVs, and companies like Apple and Siemens. If for example the banking industry is used as an example of innovation in a lecture, the majority of people from the audience will most like wonder about the appropriate of the use of the word, when it comes to financial institutions such as Goldman-Sacks, J. P. Morgan and even the Royal Bank of Scotland. However, the financial institutions that compose our economic system are the epitome of innovation. Their continuous innovation in creating new financial products and finding ways to generate wealth is what led to the technological, commercial, entrepreneurial and consumption “boom” that started after the end of the 2nd world war and is still going strong now, even after many financial crisis that this same system produced, with the most serious being that of 2008 with many countries and millions of people still experiencing its effects.
Nowadays creativity and innovation is the driving force of the economy, usually in the form of digital and mobile applications and devices. Economists have even given this new type of economy a, very appropriate, name; digital economy. iphones, ipads, tablet PCs, smartphones and millions of applications that help the user cook a nice meal, pay his bills online or even monitor his diabetes are the life-line of the post 2008 crises economy. And rightly so, as they provide incredible flexibility and utility to the users, improving their way of life and quality of life, and at the same time generating new jobs and money. They also provide a platform on which small businesses, utilizing the benefits of the new technologies and the new digital marketplace, can compete even with multinational corporations in a global marketplace.
However the link between creativity, which gives birth to innovations, with the business process is deeper than just new products and services, no matter how revolutionary these might be. The whole idea of starting up a new business, a new company, comes from ones creativity. The starting up of a business is creation. The new entrepreneur wants to be independent, to do what he enjoys and believes he is best in doing, to leave his mark, to create. It is creativity that enables an entrepreneur to act on the opportunities that present to him, in order to create competitive advantage for his company. His company does not need to be about revolutionary technology, new designs or new products. He does not need to be an inspirational writer, a painter or an architect. He is creative because he made that first very important step of becoming an entrepreneur. So, not all entrepreneurs are innovative, however those who are, shape the world we live in with their creations. Innovation is the next step of creativity; it is its materialization and the means to generate wealth. It is, or it can be, the financial link between ones thoughts and fantasies with the economy. Creativity is the heart of entrepreneurship and innovation is the oxygen that is keeping it alive.
Creativity needs a spark and innovation needs fuel. These are provided in the form of physical rewards and generation of wealth; money. Money has been blamed for many things, and most of the times rightly so, however, together with an inherited ability and need for humans to be creative, it is the most common motive for business creativity and innovation. Not the only, but one of the most significant reasons why people want to become entrepreneurs and push themselves to create something new, something exciting, something that other people, many other people, will buy. So creativity and innovation are fundamental factors of wealth generation which is the cornerstone of our capitalistic economic system, which is the only applicable economic system in the world, as we speak. One can even go as far as saying that creativity and innovation is business.
Mini Case Study: Apple
Apple Inc. is nowadays considered the most innovative company in the world. Its products are rapidly reaching legendary status, with their names being used, in many occasions, to define an entire market sector and not just a product. The IPad is a good example of Apple’s innovation. Apple actually created the marketplace for tablet PC with its introduction of IPad. Many people will refer to any tablet PC as an IPad. The same goes for the IPhone which was the first, real, smartphone, the smartphone that started the revolution we live today.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Inc. back in 1977. Jobs and Wozniak worked in Job’s parents’ garage in order to create the first Apple PC. Nowadays, Apple employs more than 73,000 people around the world, has its headquarters in a 130,000 square meters in Cupertino, California, USA and generates an annual turnover in excess of 156 billion US dollars.
Apple Inc. is not just a huge, very successful, very profitable company; it is one of the very few companies in the world that successfully combines, promotes and excels in creativity, innovation and design. Products like the Ipad, the Iphone and the Ipod, combine the creativity and vision of a company, and of a very charismatic man, Steve Jobs, who sought to develop (create) new revolutionary products, with innovation of continuously updating and upgrading, introducing new and improved versions with design, aesthetically pleasing, trendy, fashionable devices that are more than a “mobile phone” or a “portable PC”, they are status enchanting, life-style items. Many companies have attempted to do this, very few have achieved it and only a handful have mastered it. Apple is a level above them.
Of course this is not just down to the vision and charisma of Steve Jobs. Apple employs some of the most creative mind in the world and provides the conditions for them to create and innovate. The image of Steve Jobs walking around the office barefooted, chatting with his employees about ideas he or they has is characteristic about the company culture. In building nurseries, a small clinic, dentist, even a virtual reality game suits and more than twelve restaurants are but some of the benefits that Apple employees enjoy.
Apple employees are encouraged to think “outside the box”, to speak up and always share their thoughts, opinions, as well as projects and ideas with their colleagues. It is an inspiring environment that actively promotes thinking. However, Apple has also contributed in the business creativity and innovation field its influence, or the influence its huge success has, to hundreds of other companies, most of them its competitors. Apple has forced its competitors to rethink their products and sales techniques, to focus on design, to innovate. Apple has made other companies creative, by changing the market and the consumers. Apple is a company that its actions reverberate in the entire business and consuming world, as well as in the technological developments of our era.