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Innovation expert Ken Tencer urges all entrepreneurs and change-makers to adopt an ‘and’ mindset. Be open to finding new ways to serve your customers and offer more value. (YURY TARANIK/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Innovation expert Ken Tencer urges all entrepreneurs and change-makers to adopt an ‘and’ mindset. Be open to finding new ways to serve your customers and offer more value. (YURY TARANIK/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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This three-letter word can lead to greater business growth Add to ...

If you’re one of those people who gets out of bed each morning eager to find new opportunities for your business, your commitment to innovation is alive and well.

Business is all about attitude, and the drive to make a difference to our customers, families and community. The truth is that building a business means sacrifice, risk and uncertainty. The great entrepreneurs and leaders will tell you that success comes from the heart, attitude and determination you bring to each problem, every day.

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I urge all entrepreneurs and change makers to adopt an ‘and’ mindset. Be open to finding new ways to serve your customers and offer more value.

This can be difficult for entrepreneurs just starting out, surviving on thin margins. As a young entrepreneur, I remember rubbing my credit card for good luck before buying supplies, hoping I had enough credit left to buy what I needed.

I encountered a similar mindset in reading Bruce Poon Tip’s new book, Looptail. As the founder and visionary behind Toronto-based G Adventures writes: “When I started the company in 1990 with a couple of credit cards, I was living in a garage apartment and had a vision. I never thought that it would become what it has. I wasn’t given the tools from my upbringing to think big.”

As entrepreneurs, we need to build on this combination of passion and sacrifice to push for more. To make the impact we want, we need to struggle beyond our constraints to create value – something different and engaging that will inspire and capture a whole new group of customers.

Roger Martin, the innovative former dean of the U of T’s Rotman School of Management, crusades against “either-or” decision making. He says too many business leaders approach decisions in terms of choosing between two or more alternate paths. “This or that” thinking represents unnecessary compromise; it’s the easy way out. I believe in ‘this and that.’ After all, ‘and’ means more: more value for the customer and ultimately more opportunities for my business.

Mr. Poon Tip’s success was founded on this same principle of more. In his view, “there was room in the industry for a travel company offering package tours using local services – giving visitors a chance to experience a real flavour of their destinations, rather than to just stroll around a few notable landmarks.”

He had a clear vision and a burning desire to create a new level of value and satisfaction for a largely ignored segment of the travel market; those who didn’t want to be stuck within the confines of posh, antiseptic resorts. But he also recognized that average adventurers did not want to have to plan, chart and tour the more remote, exotic locations of the world on their own. With G Adventures he combined tours and local flavour, creating unique experiences that ultimately built one of Canada’s most unique and global companies.

As entrepreneurs, we need to push our teams as hard as we push ourselves, to find new ways to combine separate ideas into one new vision, a breakthrough innovation. Your success could begin by changing one simple word. But what a difference one word can make. Thinking in terms of ‘and,’ rather than ‘or,’ can be game-changing. The word ‘and’ is the jet fuel of innovative thinking.

Most importantly, this attitude generates maximum value to the customer. By focusing on it, we choose to add value, not compromise it. Challenge your team to explore the power of this simple word, which can lead to success and sustained growth.

And what more could anyone ask?

Ken Tencer, CEO of Spyder Works Inc. is a branding and innovation thought leader who helps organizations reimagine their futures. His second co-authored book on innovation, Cause a Disturbance (www.causeadisturbance.com), has just been released by Morgan James Publishing, New York.

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