Don’t Think Outside the Box for Business?

Monday, October 22, 2007 at 3:00pm by Site Administrator

In Critical Thinking for Bootstrapping Entrepreneurs, I pointed out that critical thinking makes the difference between producing a groundbreaking service or product or a variation of “the same”. What I meant was “innovative”.

However, over at, Marty Nemko says don’t innovate [via Startup Spark]. He says that doing the opposite of what business schools teach increases your chances of success, that replication is less risky than innovation – for the average shallow-pocketed entrepreneur.

Now upon deep reflection, I’d have to say he’s right. I can’t begin to explain with simple examples, but what I’ve absorbed about business as a whole suggests the truth of this.

So let’s look at the “critical thinking” angle another way. Instead of innovating – if you are following Marty’s advice – apply critical thinking to come up with a more efficient, cost-effective way to offer the same products or services. Replicating a successful business does not mean you have to copy exactly.

The real gem of advice in the Kiplinger article is hidden in point #2, Don’t seek status; avoid it. Dull, normal, unsexy businesses often make bank. And that’s true in the stock market, too. Think of something everyone – or at least lots of people – needs. For example, what do men need? What do women need? What do we both need on a daily basis? Answer those questions – provided you don’t know what your startup business will be about.

Still, all that does not mean you shouldn’t think outside the box. Outside-the-box thinkers often become inventors and entrepreneurs. They come up with improvements on simple things such as the paper clip and still make a fortune. They can innovate new products, or better ways of doing the same old thing.

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1 Comment »

  1. Beautiful, love it :)

    Woops – the comment I’m responding to seems to have disappeared. If I remember correctly Michael Martine said “there is no box”.

    Comment by Raj Dash — October 22, 2007 @ 4:52 pm

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