Fear and Inner Resistance to Business Innovation: 5 Keys to Overcome Them 1
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You feel them inside. Big and innovative ideas are striving for implementation. Most of us are even afraid of accepting innovation, not to mention incorporating it. Everyone is scared of leaving a comfort zone and moving forward to the unknown future. However, not moving is not the way.

All forward-thinking entrepreneurs are familiar with pro-change biases, fear, and inner resistance to innovation. Those who could understand the nature of these feelings and used this knowledge intelligently are at the forefront of industries and the world’s recognition today. So, what’s the secret? Let’s explore it under the magnifying glass and learn the first-hand experience of people who have overcome it once.

What Is Inner Resistance to Innovation?

Actually, it’s not only human nature. The whole Universe is based on resistance and opposition. The most magnificent beauty (as well as the best business solution) is born on the verge of extremes that are resisting each other. The Earth revolves around the Sun feeling everlasting resistance to get closer and be burnt in the hot embrace of sunshine.

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“The whole Universe is based on resistance and opposition…”

Similarly, an innovative idea occurring inside of you is the sunshine striving to reach the surface of your consciousness. Here you start making decisions and actions directed toward the implementation of innovation.

The resistance inside of you is the ultimate identification of the best direction to move and the right choice to make, despite the brain will tell you the opposite at the beginning. Our tricky brain is the most important enemy because it produces plenty of thoughts, like “my organization is not ready to make this shift,” “our budget doesn’t allow it” (although it can), “all the processes are already well-set, so why to change anything?”

Why Inner Resistance Is the Most Powerful Lens for Viewing Innovation Behavior

Business growth requires choosing one of the two directions: the industrialist’s way of thinking or creative innovation. The first path is fueled by traditional patterns based on raising the number of employees, budget, and equipment to create more products for the mass market. Such products are born by the desire to earn, not to bring value to people and empower everyone to become the creator of his own better reality.

On the contrary, an innovative approach requires you to evoke creativity and your artistic side to implement decisions that are necessary, however never tried before. This path needs you to build a connection between Art, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, and overcome inner obstacles that always accompany innovators — resistance and fear.

Rejecting an idea of nourishing mass consumerism that slowly turns us into unfeeling clones, you should choose for innovation to help your business survive and develop. In this scenario, overcoming resistance should become the driving dynamic for implementing innovations within the enterprise.

Dmytro Venglinski, Founder & CEO of Fireart Studio, a boutique design and software development company, is commenting on how to grow a business, oppose the industrialist’s way of thinking, and suggest clients implement business innovations together.

Dmytro Venglinski:

Markets are full of products with similar functionality. We don’t need more stuff; we need more empathy, humanity, and innovation. Working with clients, we strive to give a boost to their inner Creative, awake the initial innovative idea that has been hidden behind resistance and assist them in implementing it together.

We try to help other businesses propose their audiences alternative solutions that could inspire everyone also to think outside the box satisfying the user’s basic needs at the same time. A little try to create something more innovative together with a client can result in more empathic and valuable products that bring benefits for both a business itself and society.

Dana Kachan: What’s evoked the biggest fear and resistance during your entrepreneurial journey?

Dmytro Venglinski:

The most logical would be to say that I felt the biggest entrepreneurial fear when Fireart was on the edge of bankruptcy in 2014, but that’s not true.

At that time, we lost all our clients in one month due to the sudden financial collapse in Russia. The ruble (Russian currency) dropped down twice overnight, and it meant the twice higher prices for our clients from the Post-Soviet countries who made payments in US dollars. They quitted all the projects, and we were left without financing.

After injecting a business strategy with macro- and micro-innovations, the company survived, and I understood the little truth. When you are face to face with bankruptcy, you’re not afraid of making a wrong decision. You stop fluctuating and accept innovations more easily. You’re already on edge, and there is nothing to lose. You have no choice but to move forward and do what you can do to save a situation.

However, as an entrepreneur, you may feel much bigger fear and real resistance to innovation when business is stable and going well. You know that a company needs a shift because it’s now developing linearly following usual and proven patterns. You predict that they will probably work until your competitors will make these innovations.

To grow a business by the vertical, you need to incorporate innovations. At that moment, you start feeling huge fear to destroy what you’ve already built and what is working well now.

That’s what I’ve precisely felt when I’ve decided to transit Fireart Studio from a design agency with well-set processes to a full-cycle product development company and consultancy. We refused to create only designs and be executives, not innovators. We wanted to consult businesses on digital product creation, participate in market research, and take a client throughout a full cycle of product development.

It was our way to innovate and scale the company’s opportunities. We are still implementing this transition today, even though it is risky, scary, and requires the entire team and me to overcome inner resistance arising in internal processes.

Dana Kachan: What’s your recommendation for novice entrepreneurs on how to conquer a fear of leading and resistance to innovation?

Dmytro Venglinski:

Honestly, all entrepreneurs feel fear and resistance to innovations. There is no way to avoid them; you only can approach these feelings creatively and perceive them as your allies, showing you the direction to move. Your most significant shift is always hidden behind your biggest resistance.

Why It Is Worth Choosing What Is Hidden Behind Your Resistance

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Implementing digital marketing for startups and middle-sized businesses, I’ve been lucky to be a witness of exciting moments when brands overcome their resistance to marketing innovations. Every time it has indicated that a brand is ready for even bigger changes and moving to the next level of success.

From my experience, that’s not enough to market your product or services to be a successful business today. Companies should have well-defined values, share them with the audience, and incorporate innovations that support these values.

Innovation always triggers resistance, and that criticism is inevitable. Being an innovator doesn’t mean to be good for all. However, being an innovator can also mean becoming a market leader in the future after your own and public resistance are overcome.

After a detailed market and audience research is done, you can start instilling innovation into your consumer’s reality. Probably, your change will resonate with a little tribe of like-minded people at the very beginning. But you should keep in mind that innovative solutions are developed not for masses, but individuals. Give your innovation the chance and time to grow and find wider recognition.

Why Are We Afraid of Innovation?

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”The time of change always requires you to choose, give up old patterns, and accept new rules…”

Many successful entrepreneurs recommend following a big dream. By default, big dreams imply making big innovations, taking big risks, and conquering big fears.

Let’s consider primary fears occurring in the entrepreneur’s mind before choosing to innovate:

Fear of failure. We are afraid of making a wrong decision and taking responsibility for a mistake that can impact ours, the team’s, and the customers’ lives. However, failures are unavoidable, and through the mistakes, we grow.

Fear of losing control over processes. You may find out that you start losing control of some processes. It only means that they need to be optimized for your company’s new politics of innovation.

Fear of losing a reputation and clients. You might feel fear of losing your partners, clients, and even team members because your goals do not match anymore. It may sound frightening and be a high price of innovation. Whether or not to make innovation depends on you. However, keep in mind that the time of change always requires you to choose, give up old patterns, and accept new rules.

5 Tips to Overcome Fear and Resistance for Innovation-Savvy Entrepreneurs

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Let’s consider the five best practices that have helped experienced entrepreneurs to overcome innovation resistance and fear. Providing marketing services for brands, I have collected this shortlist of tips from amazing people who lead these businesses.

Step 1: Accept All the Scenarios Possible

There are different scenarios your business can experience after you have chosen to innovate. Predicting and accepting all of them is a useful practice that makes a company less vulnerable to failure and keeps you ready for almost everything. It also allows you to create a plan B that will help your business revive quickly. This approach helps reduce your inner pro-change resistance and fear of the unknown future.

Step 2: Plan How to Scale Your Innovation if It Succeeds

You should have both short-term and long-term strategies for implementing innovation. A short-term strategy allows you to plan how to incorporate innovation at the beginning. A long-term strategy lets you see how to scale your innovation if it appears to be successful for your business.

You must be ready for both success and failure at the same time. Set a final big goal of your innovation, no matter how incredible it sounds to you at the moment. You should have a clear vision of the desirable future and plan how to continue moving to a final goal if your innovation succeeds in passing the first level of obstacles.

Step 3: Think of What Awaits Your Business if Not to Innovate

As a good strategist, you should also predict what may happen to your business if you choose not to innovate at the moment. Probably, it is not the best time for changes indeed. Or on the contrary, if you don’t change the game right now, a business may suffer from negative consequences in the future.

If you don’t make this innovation, your competitors may do it instead of you. Predicting what awaits your business if you choose to continue following old patterns can give you an additional boost and motivation to start innovating. It also allows you to view a general picture more clearly, evaluate a situation more objectively, and make better decisions.

Step 4: Return to Your Initial Goal and “Inner Creative”

It is a very personal part of your motivation to innovate. When you have just started a business or a specific project, you have been driven by an incredible goal that took its roots in your inner Creative. Try to return to a headspring of your initial motivation. Recalling it may help you get back to old creative drives and desires that can empower your innovation today and contribute to reducing resistance to it.

Step 5: Accept Your Vulnerability

Innovation is always a subject of criticism and non-acceptance. No matter whether your innovative idea fails or succeeds, you may face resistance from your clients, business partners, and a team that don’t share new approaches.

During the company’s transition to new approaches, you may also feel vulnerable to competitors who can take advantage of your unstable situation meanwhile. Nevertheless, keep in mind that it is probably a temporary decline. To innovate less stressfully, you must be ready to feel vulnerable for a while. The innovation takes time to bloom and bring great results that can make your company a market leader.

Alas, even as I write this I can see how you are muttering yourself, “I am not ready for this..,” “my budget doesn’t allow it because..,” “all the processes are already well-set, so why to change…”