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innovation DAILY

Here we highlight selected innovation related articles from around the world on a daily basis.  These articles related to innovation and funding for innovative companies, and best practices for innovation based economic development.

10 laws every entrepreneur should know - become an entrepreneurThere really is no choosing to become an entrepreneur; there are some who are simply born to bring new ideas, products and solutions to the marketplace and others who do not have an entrepreneurial bone in their body. But even those who have the skills and ambition to become an entrepreneur must be prepared to face the harsh realities of the business world and to gain the knowledge required to bring their brilliant ideas to fruition.

Before you quit your day job to devote your time to becoming a successful small business owner, there are 10 important laws you need to become intimately familiar with as you begin your journey down the road to become an entrepreneur. Ignore them at your peril because each comes with a sting in its tail for those who, intentionally or due to ignorance, abuse them..

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According to cognitive psychologist Robert J. Sternberg, creativity can be broadly defined as "...the process of producing something that is both original and worthwhile" (2003). Creativity is all about finding new ways of solving problems and approaching situations. This isn't a skill restricted to artists, musicians or writers; it is a useful skill for people from all walks of life. If you've ever wanted to boost your creativity, these tips can help.

1. Commit Yourself to Developing Your Creativity

The first step is to fully devote yourself to developing your creative abilities. Do not put off your efforts. Set goals, enlist the help of others and put time aside each day to develop your skills.

2. Become an Expert

One of the best ways to develop creativity is to become an expert in that area. By having a rich understanding of the topic, you will be better able to think of novel or innovative solutions to problems.

3. Reward Your Curiosity

One common roadblock to developing creativity is the sense that curiosity is an indulgence. Rather than reprimanding yourself, reward yourself when you are curious about something. Give yourself the opportunity to


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Four Ways We Kill InnovationHarvard Business Review had a great post last week entitled “5 Warning Signs That Your Innovation Efforts are Going Off the Rails.”

I had to chuckle as I read the post – focused on how to make innovation efforts a partnership with the core business focus, instead of a competition. I didn’t chuckle because it was amusing. I chuckled because I’ve seen all five ‘warning signs’ touted as the foundations of the innovation effort, not as unwanted by-products. We’re often proud to be operating in a way that produces just these signs. How wrong is that?

Based on a number of status quo approaches, we set up innovation as a competitor to our current model. It’s time we changed those status quos!

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Video: Should a Start-up Focus on Going Global Right Away?
Randy Komisar, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers - 3 min. 19 sec.
According to Komisar, globalization needs to be part of the tool set for every entrepreneur doing a start-up today. This doesn't mean immediately going global, but understanding the global market and having a plan for the future, he adds.

Video: Globalization: Acting Local to be Global
Janice Roberts, Mayfield Fund - 3 min. 42 sec.
Mayfield Fund, a venture capital firm based in Silicon Valley, expands its operations in China and India to locally participate in the companies it funds. Roberts notes that this enables Mayfield Fund to understand the unique opportunities offered by different geographic locations.

Video: Challenges of a Global Company
Scott Kriens, Juniper Networks - 3 min. 13 sec.
One of Juniper Networks's biggest challenges is efficiently operating a global company. CEO Scott Kriens challenges the audience to obtain the skill set necessary to work in a global team environment.

Video: Entering a Global Market
Gil Penchina, Wikia - 4 min. 36 sec.
Wikia CEO Gil Penchina discusses the steps that entrepreneurs should take when entering a new and unfamiliar global market.

Why Do So Many Women-Owned Businesses Struggle to Make It to $1 Million?Bloomberg Businessweek recently featured a fascinating interview with Nell Merlino, the founder of Make Mine a Million. The program, which Merlino founded in 2005, had a goal of helping 1 million women-owned businesses reach 1 million in sales by 2010.

Merlino didn’t achieve that goal, but she’s looking at the positive side: “We’ve raised $10 million and helped women generate $100 million in revenue and create 6,000 jobs.”

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The product you've built, the team you've assembled, the customers you've won, the growth you're predicting - all crucial for winning investor support. And you can have all those pieces in place and still blow it during your pitch. This can happen because of your demeanor or something you say.

"Startup killers" is how Cynthia Kocialski describes them. "When speaking to someone about the new product or the business proposition, there is often the moment when you know that you have lost your listener," she writes in a blog post titled "How to Lose an Investor Before You Finish Speaking." "One misspoken comment and everyone wants to leave as soon as possible. They've made their decision and they want you to stop wasting their time."

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When Sir Gordon Wu, chairman of Hopewell Highway Infrastructure, was a student at Princeton in the 1950s, he dreamt of Chinese superhighways, when China was a poor, closed economy. A few decades later, Wu won the contract to build China’s first superhighway between Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

While he had no financial support, Wu was offered an incentive by the Chinese government — the faster he could complete the highway, the higher his profits would be. Cutting through the bureaucrac

y, bringing in the best of global technology and finance, Wu deputed 30,000 labourers who took only 26 months to finish a 72-mile superhighway that today zips across the fastest growing region in the world.

By doing so, China set in motion a positive precedence of regional economic development of the scale and size, the world had never seen before. Indeed, incentivised growth, supported by proactive tax regimes, can do wonders for a country and its people.

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This post was originally published in a shorter (more sensible) format in the Wall Street Journal online.  If you’re short on time click on the WSJ link and read  the 990 word version there.  Otherwise, grab a cup ‘o coffee …

One year ago I predicted that in 2010/11 the economy, far from being on the path of permanent recovery was on a temporary resurgence and there was a strong possibility of a “double dip” recession.  My advice to entrepreneurs was and is “when the hors d’oeuvres tray is being passed take two” (e.g. raise money now to weather any storms).

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jacksonville stormOne year ago I predicted that in 2010/11 the economy, far from being on the path of permanent recovery was on a temporary resurgence and there was a strong possibility of a “double dip” recession. 

My advice to entrepreneurs was and is “when the hors d’oeuvres tray is being passed take two” (e.g. raise money now to weather any storms).

My original thinking from Oct ’09 was, while I didn’t (and still don’t) have a crystal ball I worried that: consumers were over-stretched with debt (and make up 77% of the economy), unemployment would continue to rise, which in turn would drive the stock market south and cut the rate of M&A activity and VC investment even further.

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With a growing number of people seeking entrepreneurship as an alternative path in this rough economy, there is increasing competition for the key resources that can make or break the startup venture.

New entrepreneurs are competing for essential resources, such as the funding, the customers and the staff they need to build a successful business. Attracting these resources often relies on how well the entrepreneur can deliver "the pitch" for his new business.

An effective pitch starts with a hook -- something that grabs the attention of the person one is talking to about a business. The most effective hook lays the groundwork to show the underlying need in the market for what the new business aims to offer.

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Looking over The Forbes annual Midas List there was something strange and awry, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I finally figured it out. Where are the women venture capitalists?!

The Midas List, which started in 2001, did not rank one single woman. This should certainly strike as a surprise given the space and time women have entered the workforce. Over the past 30 years, the position of women in U.S. society has changed dramatically.

Four women from Forbes’s 2009 list were named the most powerful VCs and five more from Forbe’s 2007 list. Venture capital is not just a boys club anymore and hopefully there are more to come this year. Including female investors has proved to benefit companies. For example, being familiar with women-run businesses can result in funding with at least one woman partner as opposed to those who only have male partners. Though there are social barriers to overcome for female venture capitalists, there has been some significant change within the last three decades. Women have risen to the top recently and succeeded in the male dominated world of finance and business. As part of the ever changing world we live in, I predict that more women will go into venture in these coming years.

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I ran into a venture capitalist colleague coming out of Palo Alto's Whole Foods yesterday evening. I mentioned a VC-funded solar startup CEO I had just interviewed, and this VC, let's call him Sanjay, just rolled his eyes and said, "Solar is done."

Sanjay pointed out, in-between bites of raw fawn hearts, the logic that now made solar investing, at least in solar panels, a lost cause for venture capital investors. He explained, "Let's s

ay your capex is $1 per watt for your solar panel factory. Given the moving freight train that is the current solar industry, you're going to have to ramp up to half a gigawatt or a gigawatt. That's $500 million to one billion dollars just to build your factory."

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