This is definitely the theme I care about. The only thing which I believe can drive a startup, a company, a single developer to success. If you innovate you will make the difference and you will probably stand over your competitors, your costumers will love you more and you will get more momentum; that is what momentum is about.
Momentum is that strange unit which we sometimes use in Physics, definiying it as M = m*v (Mass times Velocity). Although it is probably a Physiscs idea, this concept can be easily converted in an Entrepreneurship measure. If momentum is high your product will be constantly shipped, if it goes down there are going to be a few problems.
In my humble opinion innovation is the only key ingredient that can keep up your momentum and your company. In the last years, the largest and the smallest companies are following this rule, but , unfortunately, there is still someone who really misses the point. In fact there are tons of copycats out there and there are startups based on other startups. In the same way many companies instead of buying small startups, they copy them, lacking momentum and really not following the innovation key rule.
For this reason I would like to write down a few main points which could lead you in the process of innovating your market.
#1 Think Out Of The Schemes
Isn’t it obvious? No, it isn’t. The people that build technology use tech at any time in their lives because they love it. This is one of the worst thing that you could do. It is always good to be updated about tech and try it out, but sometimes that new smartphone, that new app which you have just downloaded, can create you a lot of problems. The technology we use every day influences us, killing our free thought and letting our imagination dying. The only thing that we can do is to trash whatever is around us and have a walk without a smartphone, an iPod or a Pebble Watch. When you are alone and when you don’t have anything to care about, you can see the picture from a wider point of view; and this is the way you should act while building a product, this is the only way to save innovation.
#2 Don’t Care About What Others Think
Yes, I know. Feedback is always good, but sometimes it influences you too much. None of Kevin Rose‘s friends liked Digg while he was developing it, but he didn’t care, because he thought Digg was the right thing to do in that moment. It is not a matter of what the others say it is a matter of what you feel. I am not saying that you should just walk over your friends’ opinion, I am saying that you should analyze their points and compare them with what you really think. If you see a wider picture and if you see that what you are doing is right, you will have to keep developing your product.
#3 Don’t Follow What It Is Hot
If social is hot, it doesn’t mean that every single developer should build a social app. If geo location is hot, it doesn’t mean that everyone must develop an app such as Foursquare. The key to innovate is to build what people do not expect you build. There is nothing new from what others have built and there is nothing new in a product that people are already using in a different way. If you follow what it is hot you will end up with a copycat. However if your idea is really big in that niche you should think about it, but in most of the cases there is nothing new, 1 out of ten cases is awesome the rest is the same.
#4 Study Society
If you want to build a product for internet mass consumption or enterprise, you will need to understand how society works, how people meet and how they interact. If you don’t analyze the patterns that are at the basis of your niche, you won’t find that need or gap on which you product will be built. For instance, Mark Zuckerberg, before leaving Harvard, was getting a major in Computer Science with a minor in Psychology, which helped him a lot with what he did later. Although you can’t study everything, you can easily find books, references and tons of papers about Social Networks Analysis, which is at the basis of our modern society.
In conclusion, it is not a matter of what you do, but it is a matter of why you do it. In most cases innovation comes from people who feel the need to develop something that they really care about. If you don’t care about what you are doing, stop it. On the other hand, if that is really what you are passionate about, follow your dreams and do not let the others destroy your imagination.