The entrepreneur life is incredibly trendy right now among millennials. Maybe it’s the fact that you get to be your own boss, or it’s the allure of high risk and high return life. Due in part to the romanticized life of a business person (no thanks to media) wanting to be your own boss while inspiring and adventurous is also a lot.
Something common I hear a lot from starting entrepreneurs is their struggle to stumble across the “next big thing” or million-dollar idea. And while have a eureka moment can be possible, it is also very very uncommon a groundbreaking, never-before-seen idea – especially if you’re not focused in any one particular field/industry.
The low probability of inventing something entirely new is already a hurdle to overcome let along the many barriers you’re going to face when you publicize your idea. You have to convince people it’s relevant, it solves a problem (and come up with that problem on your own in the first place). You also have to be able to fight criticism with real tangible facts. Plus, how do you know 100% that there is nothing done that is similar to your idea?
Inventing something entirely new successfully can be incredibly challenging, instead, why not select an idea that’s already working? I’ve always assumed that the expression “Reinventing the wheel” was negative. You hear “don’t try and reinvent the wheel” because to do so means that you’re putting effort into a project that’s already been done or optimized.
We are made to believe that everything is already set with little room for innovation. People are criticized for not coming up with any original ideas, but if we stopped better previous processes we would be stuck and never progressing.
It’s rarely ever about who did it first. The business world isn’t grade school. It’s about who does it best. Reinventing something to be better makes you an industry leader, replacing those who are passive and complacent in their time.
So before you think you need to be completely innovative to make it, it could be that the only innovation you need to do is putting your own spin on a classic idea. Here are just a couple of examples of successful businesses that put their own spin on an already created invention.
1) Tesla Didn't Invent Electric Motors
Surprise! The electric car is actually a very old concept. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford put their minds together to try and create a low-priced electric car. Sound familiar? Tesla is known for their cutting-edge electric motor technology but they weren’t the first ones who thought of the electric car. For reasons that you can read here, the electric car was killed by Ford and put aside for another day, a day where Elon Musk reinvented a better wheel. Like Elon Musk, if you re-do something, make sure you’re going to make it the most kickass thing you can conceptualize. Be disruptive, and change the industry paradigm.
2) Google didn't invent the search engine
As much as Google changed our concept of search engines and created what it is today, they weren’t the ones that came up with the idea. Search engine sites started popping up in colleges most frequently in 1993, but the very first search engine was called Archie and it was made in 1990. Then Webcrawler was created, became popular but died in 2001 letting Yahoo take over as the most popular search destination on the web. But these earlier search engines were messy, unorganized and weren’t very accessible. Wanting to “organize the world’s information and make it universally useful,” a search engine that used to be known as Backrub (before being named Google) was born.
3) The Wright Brothers didn't invent engines, propellers, or wings!
So what did they do? Well... they made it actually work. Despite these parts being created separately and by someone else, these two American aviators are credited as inventors because they created the SUCCESSFUL aeroplane.
When you do re-invent the wheel, or at least think of ways to, try and learn from the failures and not the successes. I believe that failure teaches us way more than success stories because you always remember your mistakes. While success stories are heartwarming and great, not everyone remembers everything about them. We don’t analyze, review and dissect successes the way we do when we fail. I’m telling you this because you definitely will fail, and don’t be scared of that fact. Some of you may fail more than others, but no matter what know that success is never a straight line.
If you’re scared of failure, you won’t be able to create something that’s similar to what’s been done before. You’ll keep waiting indefinitely until a Eureka moment strikes you with a never before heard of idea. Be open to reinventing the wheel, you never know if your version will actually be the next billion-dollar idea.
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