Success in business does not rely solely on strategy – particularly when the growth of entrepreneurial businesses is in question. Ideas are the core of what makes any company succeed, and while innovation cannot be created, it can be nurtured.
According to Simon Campbell-Young, CEO of The Extension, innovation and creativity can be fostered in the right environment. “Every business starts with an idea, and it is how that idea is taken to market that makes the difference between success and failure. Entrepreneurship rests on finding innovative ways to supply products and services, and needs a balance between the functional side and innovation. In many instances, entrepreneurs lack the operational elements they need to allow their business to come into its own. If that element is taken care of, creativity can flourish and business success will follow.”

He says that the development of entrepreneurial innovation is not only dependent on a solid operational foundation, but also on involvement and collaboration among the right people. “The link between innovation and collaboration is well documented and has been acknowledged as a potential source of competitive advantage. This has never been more important than today, with the fast-paced market conditions businesses face.”

The key to collaboration and therefore innovation lies in access. Access to the ideas, funding, and support that will allow entrepreneurs to enhance their offerings and take their businesses in new directions.

“Making their idea as understandable and attractive as possible is the foundation all entrepreneurs work off of. This isn’t as easy as it sounds without the right support. It could be financial, administrative, or creative support that is required, but without all of these elements in place, growing a business is a lot harder.”

Campbell-Young explains that he has seen how having the right support can help develop entrepreneurial businesses. “The Extension started off as a hot desk solution that allowed entrepreneurs to have a flexible office environment as and when they needed it. It has evolved to include not only investors who are taking an active interest in the businesses that form part of the community, but collaboration between many of the businesses themselves. In some cases to achieve complementary offerings, and in others to fill gaps. The end result has been growth and evolution for all of the companies involved.”

In The Innovators; How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, Walter Isaacson highlights the importance of collaboration. He also highlights, however, how worrying about ownership and credit can slow and even hinder the process of innovation. By providing a safe environment that offers collaboration and support in all of the areas that entrepreneurs need, The Extension is providing a platform that is enabling small South African businesses to focus on the innovation that will make them successful.