I recently came across an article in the Economist. To be perfectly honest, as an aspiring entrepreneur, it nearly sent me into a panic. It read “Pretty profitable parrots- For business, being good at copying is at least as important as being innovative”. I mean intuitively it makes sense to be able to recognize good strategies and practices and be able to adapt them to your business, that’s just learning by example. But just copying? Isn’t innovation the key to successful entrepreneurship? Yes and no.
Drug companies do it all the time, some like Pfizer are the innovators, they invest time and money on extensive research to create new drugs. Other drug companies simply wait for patents to expire and make generic versions. Both however turn impressive profits and both meet the needs of consumers.
So what’s the takeaway for an entrepreneur? I’d say be good at both. Never underestimate originality. If you have a new idea, pursue it (and be sure to protect it as well). At the same time however, if there are elements from your environment which seem to have been successful in the past and still are successful, see how best you can adapt them to your business. Take the two as complements, not just extreme opposites.
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