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Innovators and Enterprise Creation*
Dick Meyer

Dr. Richard T. Meyer
President – CIC Photonics, Inc.
Founding Board Member – National Association of Seed and Venture Funds
President - Orion Technical Associates

Albuquerque, NM

There are idea people, inventors, and innovators. Only the innovator should pursue creating an enterprise.

The idea person is just about everybody. We all, at one time or another, have thought about doing or making something differently to satisfy a need. Thousands and millions of ideas float out of our brains everyday as we encounter life's problems. A really sound idea becomes great only if and when it is converted into an innovation.

Similarly, thousands of inventors tinker with their ideas and some actually build a prototype. But rarely do they have in mind taking their idea or prototype to the stage of creating an enterprise for commercialization. In most instances they go no further than a license with a royalty with an individual buyer or business. And some inventors make lots of money from their royalties. But this falls short of innovation.

Innovators, those individuals or small teams of individuals, start with an idea to improve life or business in some manner, and then go the distance. They produce a prototype of their concept followed by preliminary, perhaps extensive, market research to determine if there is a significant opportunity for selling the service or product, and finally create a new enterprise based upon a clearly written business plan.

Innovations are novel products or services which either provide a new solution to an existing market need or create a new market niche which only that innovation fulfills, at least for the first several years. Consider the spectacular innovations of the cell phone digital camera and the Lotus 123 spreadsheet for home and business.

Innovators, as they create and implement an innovation, assemble a management team, conduct market research, raise capital to finance operations, and establish distribution or selling channels. These are the elements of business that separate idea people and inventors from the innovator. True innovators are challenged by the demands of the business enterprise and recognize that the success potential of his or her enterprise comes from implementing all those elements.

Innovation, therefore, is sequence of thought processes, research, action items, and formalization of a business plan to take a new product or service to the marketplace for the purpose of generating revenues and profits.

* Copyright 2005. Excerpted from Dr. Richard T. Meyer's forthcoming book "Enterprise Creation: The Do's and Don'ts of Starting a Business."

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