Forget about counting chips: bold entrepreneurs who think about the future and guide their organizations there win the round. For rising business leaders, developing a successful product idea is all about making time to take that risk properly, laying down the cards for efficient innovation at the right time, when angel investors are eager to place their bets on you.

“Efficient innovation” describes the entrepreneurial process of developing great ideas in a highly planned and strategic manner – it’s the key to attracting investment in your company, along with visionary leadership.
To stay in the game, business leaders must also stay ahead of the game by focusing on the future – a great idea is important, but with one steady hand on the enterprise and the other looking into the coming decade and directing the company there. A proper marketing plan to see it through is the next most vital element of success. Chasing money won’t preserve a business’ future.

In many ways, efficient innovation is as valuable as profits because, while profit has many short-term benefits, long-term investor relationships are built on trust for the entrepreneur’s leadership, a vision of the future that wins the confidence that investments will fund a well-managed development process.

Unfortunately, too many entrepreneurs focus on the money and not on achieving efficient innovation—that is a major barrier to finding capital. This often is a paradox business leaders face; they want to innovate and yet finding capital is the nagging presence constantly diverting their vision of the future. To stay the course of innovation, it takes real discipline.

Attracting capital in today’s unpredictable economy isn’t easy and neither is developing innovative new products. In addition to dealing with increasingly fickle investors, there is a constant influx of new competitive technologies, evolving modes of communication and an increasing demand for transparency, information and answers. Just to stay in the game businesses must be constantly inventing and evolving as part of daily operations – that is their first priority.

During such times of rapid change financial success hinges on cutting-edge ideas. While consumer-supported trends may jolt profit margins sooner, today’s rate of innovation is so fast that inventions are cutting-edge one day and obsolete the next.

The most enticing ideas are ones that intend to disrupt and improve; ideas that bring real change to how we do or see things. More than anything else, investors want to be inspired – an inspired investor opens his cheque book much more readily. After the recession, most people want to feel like a new day is dawning – that there are forward-thinking leaders ready to take us into the future.

In many ways, the past decade has moved us into an age of information, making intellectual capital the key strategic element for business success. For instance, accumulating data and developing systems for enterprises to contain such information has never been more important. The more information that is interpreted and communicated, the more ideas are generated and spread.

But of course a great idea is not enough; investors are also interested in the business leaders behind the proposal. They want entrepreneurs who are not only rich in modern intelligence, but who are passionately committed to move their ideas through the development life cycle, with a firm understanding of what the end result will be.

The trick is not to rush. Ideas take time to be built out and explored.  The biggest stumbling block for entrepreneurs, once the money is there, is to leave the dream and test competency. It is tempting to focus on existing business, rather then spend precious time developing an idea.  The time it takes to develop can feel like a gamble, but if done properly, will give entrepreneurs the strongest hand in the long run.

To attract long-term capital and achieve business success, entrepreneurs should focus on developing their operational skills, while also allowing for the occasional gamble. Technology might be changing too quickly to allow for safe bets to exist, but the strongest hand is a solid plan for development and capable leadership to see it through.

In today’s market, while money deals the cards, efficient innovation – and a vision of the future – wins the game.

Leon Goren

Leon Goren is president of Presidents of Enterprising Organizations (PEO), a peer network of top CEOs and senior executives. He also co-founded the Canadian success story justwhiteshirts.com. See more…