Innovation is a loaded concept for many entrepreneurs. After all, no one decides to start a company just to repeat the same-old-same-old. Quite the opposite: You're striking out on your own at least in part because you see an opportunity, be it a new product, a new service, or a new way of doing business.
But having an innovative idea is one thing. Building an innovative company is another altogether. That's where this issue's cover story comes in. We asked BusinessWeek Senior Writer Diane Brady to take a tough look at innovation and to find entrepreneurs who have managed to splice it into their company's DNA. In "Ideas that Bloom", Diane finds compelling stories from entrepreneurs with offerings as diverse as roofing products, organic teas, and even nursing bras. She also mined the minds of top thinkers on innovation, asking for their advice on how to build an innovative culture, and pulled together a list of suggested reading for those ready to dig deeper.
We'll keep covering the best in thinking on innovation with the addition of our new columnist, author and brainstorming guru Doug Hall. Ask Doug what innovation is -- something on which no two experts can agree -- and he doesn't hesitate. Doug defines innovation simply as something that is patentable and causes chaos. It's that clarity of thinking that makes us so excited about bringing him on board. His first dispatch, about why listening to customers is for losers (his words), shows we could be on to something big.
We're also pleased to introduce a new personal finance department to SmallBiz. In Net Worth, we ask experts to solve problems for entrepreneurs struggling to reach their financial goals. You can read their advice for Robyn Cummings, the owner of R.C. Transcription Services in St. Paul, Minn.
If you'd like to participate in an upcoming Net Worth, either as an entrepreneur or as a financial advisor, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and put the phrase "Net Worth" in the subject line. As always, we look forward to hearing from you -- on any topic at all.
By Kimberly Weisul, Editor, BusinessWeek SmallBiz