Last update: 10-Dec-2013 10:54 am
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Small innovations add up to big business
When you think about innovation, do you think about Silicon Valley and technological advances and companies with big research and development budgets?
Most people do, but the truth is that even the smallest businesses, from one-chair barbershops to popcorn vendors on the street, are capable of coming up with ideas that capture customers’ imaginations. When that happens, you are on your way to building a great brand.
Although it might be hard to believe now, the story of the Virgin Group is a small business that succeeded because of our team’s innovative spirit.
When my friends and I started up our first business, Student magazine, we were a bunch of young hippies barely managing to scratch a living, yet we knew we had an idea for a product that people would want: A publication geared toward young people like us. I lived in a friend’s basement, and our office was based in a church crypt that a vicar let us use. We eventually turned our camaraderie and enthusiasm into a global business.
It is with this in mind that a few years ago we created the Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg, through which we have supported 479 entrepreneurs across 21 industries by sharing knowledge, networks and resources.
We saw a real need there: The national unemployment rate hovers at 25 percent, and many of the jobless are young people. Though it is a country blessed with great natural resources and talented people, small and more established businesses are lagging behind their counterparts in countries like Brazil and China.
I was in Johannesburg recently, and as I heard pitches from many of our aspiring entrepreneurs, I was reminded of the many different ways that a small business can innovate.
You don’t need a big budget: all you need is some ambition and a good idea.
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