Harvey Firestone, the founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, stated, "Capital isn't so important in business. Experience isn't so important. You can get both these things. What is important is ideas. If you have ideas, you have the main asset you need, and there isn't any limit to what you can do with your business and your life." Firestone knew that innovation was vital to business. Without innovation you have a limited ceiling to your success.
Since 2007, iLabs, a branch of the University of Michigan-Dearborn College of Business, has been publishing the iLabs Innovation Index. This Index Report is prepared on a quarterly basis and is comprised of six indicators that measure the innovation activity in Michigan: Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, gross job creation, trademark applications, incorporations and LLC filings, venture capital (VC) funding and the percentage of innovation workers in the workforce as measured by those employed in science and engineering. The 2007 Report set the benchmark at 100 and the current index report stands at 92.8.
This quarterly report hit a 4 year high earlier this year but has since taken a bit of a tumble. The formation of new businesses, VC funding and number of innovation workers in the workforce all fell in the second quarter. While the number of business filings and VC funding numbers fell from earlier this year, they still remain above the previous year’s numbers. The innovation workers employed numbers fell below both last quarter and last year’s numbers.
Based on these indicators it would appear that innovation is picking up in Michigan for the most part except for the hiring of those individuals that have the ideas. Are Michigan businesses limiting themselves by not hiring these individuals? Harvey Firestone might make that argument. Innovation is something that takes time and it’s not something that can be produced on demand. West Michigan businesses that believe that they are fine without innovation are limited and when they realize this it will likely be too late to hire some to swoop with innovations to get them caught up with the competition.
These innovators, the individuals with the ideas, need to cultivate their own ideas too. Just because you do not have the support of an established business does not mean that you have to settle for a non-innovative position. Create your own position by forming your own Grand Rapids startup or small business. As Firestone stated, the capital and business experience are not necessities but your ideas are. There are plenty of entities, groups and individuals throughout West Michigan that can help you with the business aspect of things.
Thomas Edison said, “"There's a way to do it better—find it." Maybe it’s time to show the world what you have found.
Source: “Michigan Innovation Index trends flat” by Carl Dunker of MiBiz