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There is no word that get thrown around more frequently at business conferences than the word "Innovation". Everyone describes their business by it.

We are changing the way farming is done, in an innovative way. Now we put the seeds in the ground, we let rain fall on them and sometimes support with irrigation, we occasionally apply fertilizer as the plants grow and when they are ripe we harvest and sell them. Pure innovation. 

We are redefining the way eCommerce is done. We have set up a nice interactive website powered by a popular eCommerce template, we allow you to add items you want to a cart, you can also checkout by paying online and providing an address where the items will be shipped to. It's innovation at its peak.

Sometimes, I think it's a deliberate joke. Well, until I see that they genuinely believe that what they are doing is truly an innovation.

I used to think that what I am doing is also an innovation. Teaching people how to use Excel, building VBA programs and doing data analysis consulting. No one else is doing what I am doing, at least, like I am doing. But that is not innovation.

Innovation is doing something completely and revolutionarily new. Like being the first to build a platform that allows people to order for taxi from their phone and pay from their phone and rate/review the taxi guy and even offer yourself + your car for taxi services. Or the first to allow people watch movies and TV series on demand from any internet connected device for a monthly fee.

Innovation is doing what no one else is doing or even thinking of doing. Anything less than that is promotion. Whenever you use the word innovation to describe your me-too business, you are simply promoting it. Whenever I use the word innovation to describe my business (well, now), I am simply doing some advertising. It is not a bad thing. In fact, my me-too business is what is putting food on my table and giving me some hope that the future is bright. I wouldn't snuff out that hope for some grammar argument. But I also won't deceive myself into thinking I am doing what I am not yet doing.

If one day I come across a business idea genuinely new and revolutionary plus with a positive NPV, I will be sure to let you all know that I now have earned the right to use the word innovation in describing my business. But for now, I better shsh. 


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