You have probably come across this word, Biomimicry, which is a method that has guided many successful entrepreneurs through their innovation journey.
Biomimicry is a method for creating solutions to human challenges by emulating designs and ideas found in nature.
This method is used everywhere: buildings, vehicles, and even materials. For example, it is believed that Bullet trains were inspired by Kingfisher birds while Wind turbines modeled after Humpback whales.
This goes to show that sometimes the best solution to a problem isn’t always the most complex, and, similarly, the best answer isn’t always a new one.
Away from Biomimicry though, in the business world, there is plenty to also learn or copy from other businesses, and one should not be afraid to borrow and adapt their best ideas.
Big companies like GE Healthcare, BMW, Samsung still source inspiration to improve on their products from cross-industry innovations.
For example, GE Healthcare looked to the theme park industry to make MRI scanners less frightening for children. By designing machines that looked like pirate ships or submarines and trying to fashion a story around the experience, there was a significant decrease in young patients needing sedation.
And if you are a BMW die hard, you probably know that BMW’s iDrive system was inspired by video game controllers that allow players to navigate complex scenes with a simple set of buttons.
Sourcing inspiration from other businesses or even from an unexpected place is a chance to push boundaries, and to create experiences that your customers haven’t yet seen in the context of your industry.
The success story of an entrepreneur depends on a couple of things. ‘Having seen how bigger companies like BMW have sourced inspiration to improve their products, well, here are some places where you as a Kenyan CEO or Founder can seek inspiration to help you improve your product to help you stay ahead of the competition:
Insightful and Transferrable ideas
As a businessperson starting off a business or even running one already, always ask what it is that you want to innovate. Think around your product. As much as you would want your product to be unique, there is probably a couple of guys doing the same thing or in the same field.
The next step should be you looking to other companies in that space that are excellent at executing the function of the business you are seeking to improve, think about what you can learn from them and decide which of their approaches you can transfer over.
From the company’s processes, flows, business model, leadership, maybe even culture and attitudes. The point here is not to copy and paste the innovation but to copy and adapt it.
Never stop learning
After getting an idea of what you want, do not settle. Research further and investigate ways you can now stay ahead of the competition. Research on whether your product is viable, scalable, investor-friendly and much more.
In a digital world where everything is evolving overnight, do not stop learning and researching on how you can improve your product (one of the mistakes that companies like Blackberry, Kodak made).
Platforms like SlideShare are gold mines for businesspeople. Such platforms help companies uncover insights about what companies in other sectors are doing.
The next step after conducting research at your desk is to interview someone from the company you wish to learn from. Even better, visit them in person and see how they run the business daily. That’s where you will learn the most.
Running a successful business often means differentiating yourself from the competition and doing things differently, better, or more affordable.
Carefully analyze your competition to identify places where you can do things better or fill in gaps in service. Keep in mind that competition doesn’t just refer to other companies within your industry or that offer similar products or services. Competition refers to anything that competes with you for your customer’s time, attention, and money. How can you make your business stand out among the noise?
Attending business events and workshops
Business events help you create networks that you couldn’t have from your office. There are always several workshops and even business events hosted across different places.
Apart from networking business workshops help you get insights to run your business, ideas that you might have not gathered if you chose the comfort of your office. From growing your sales to digital marketing, emerging technologies, management and leadership workshops, these are just some workshops that one can get to learn a thing or two about business.
For example, Nairobi Garage gets to host a number of events from a wide range of business topics. Events form an integral part of our culture. These business talks inspire the entrepreneurs in the space, as they give them a chance to learn from others who have been in the space before helps them understand that the business challenges, they face are not unique to them.
Also getting to network with like-minded people and listening to successful entrepreneurs stories could give you a business perspective that you had not thought of before.
Think of the future
Too many businesses fail because they focus on the past or even the present. Instead, imagine your business five or ten years in the future. What trends are coming down the pike? What are people going to want going forward? While you may not be able to predict the future with 100 percent certainty, looking forward can spark creativity and better business ideas than simply focusing on what your customers need right now.
Coworking spaces are home to many companies that could be in your space or even in a different space. Some of these companies even have a global presence.
Coworking spaces like Nairobi Garage are home to over 100 companies and many successful entrepreneurs from diverse sectors. This goes far to show that there is even more opportunity to interact with other businesses outside of your sector and share ideas, concepts and thinking that can lead to more innovation, creativity, and profitability.
The collaborations also help you save on time and to some extent some expenses that you might have incurred to bring in a permanent employee while you can outsource services from the person just next to you. And who knows maybe listening to a successful entrepreneur within the space could lead to your next breakthrough.
Friends and Family
Social listening allows you to see what strangers are saying, but your friends and family could be a well of inspiration as well. What are they talking about? What problems do they need to be solved? What could make their lives easier? Bounce your ideas off your friends and family. They can offer a fresh perspective and identify ways to tweak or improve your ideas, or even provide inspiration for a completely new direction leading to the list of successful entrepreneurs.