What Makes An Innovator?

Put simply, an innovator is someone who leads or facilitates the turning of ideas into real life solutions. An innovator could be a single person, or a collective group of people – but what makes an innovator?

There can sometimes be disagreements about what the terms ‘innovative’ and ‘innovator’ mean and how they can be realised, but there are some broadly recognised ideas that this article will start to explore.

The best innovators will usually share a set of soft skills and practices that can really drive forward the successful creation of a solution.

Depending on the innovation, some subject knowledge will be required to make things work – but the soft skills and practices mentioned in this article, are some of those deemed critical to innovation taking place.

Start with goals and objectives to Make an Innovator

In order to be an innovator, you need to start with something.

That something may be an existing product or service, or it may just be an early-stage idea – but you need to start somewhere.

Setting clear goals and objectives which are realistic and timebound will help you maintain focus as you try to innovate.

You also need to start with a plan – it’s unlikely you will start with the plan that works out in the end, but this is okay – you can build on and develop this over time. Having a plan and clear objectives can help you stay focused, maintain a clear direction and keep yourself accountable to working towards your goals.

Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks

Being an innovator is not easy. It involves much thought, hard work and stepping out of your comfort zone.

In order to really explore the possibilities and enhance an innovation, you will sometimes need to take calculated risks, without being afraid to do so.

It can be easy to stick to the status quo and choose the easy route, but this will not result in innovation.

Collaborate with others

The best innovators talk to, and collaborate with others to improve their knowledge, skills and abilities to innovate.

We cannot all be experts on everything, which is why it is crucial that we share knowledge and ideas.

This could take place in many ways, from finding a mentor who has expertise in your sector, to attending a networking event.
Other great ways to collaborate are by getting involved with local industrial sectors, creating real connections with people online, and being part of co-working communities.

Be strong and resilient

It can be a regular occurrence to face setbacks as innovator, or for things to not go as well as you hoped they might.

Innovation can often take significant amounts of effort and time and the results of your work might not be noticeable to start with.
One of the keys to being a successful innovator is to keep going.

Having strong resilience is an important part to being an innovator. People may not accept your ideas at first, part of your innovation might not work, and you might start to get frustrated.

However, by not giving up, regularly reminding yourself of your progress and staying focused on your goals, you can take great strides in making your innovation goal a reality.

These four ideas may seem simple, but without them it can be very hard to be an innovator.

Few of us naturally have these skills, though getting involved in different projects and embracing continuous development can help us learn over time.

The ability to turn mistakes into learnings and always being hungry to find a better way of doing things are key parts of the puzzle that makes an innovator.

Nathan Shoesmith

Nathan Shoesmith provides project management and data intelligence support to advance game-changing innovation projects for Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), working in collaboration with industry across sectors including manufacturing and space.

Away from the LEP, Nathan has worked on various business and charitable projects, previously as a journalist regularly appearing on broadcast television during the coronavirus pandemic. Nathan published his first book in 2021 while studying at Lancaster University.