expressed opinion entrepreneur Contributors are themselves.
Curiosity is the spark behind every leading innovation. Without it, we would never be able to harness electricity, fly to the moon, or develop a Covid-19 vaccine in record time. But while it’s easy to come up with great ideas—they’re everywhere—ideas that revolutionize entire industries and professions require us to keep our eyes open to the challenges that lie before us every day, and ask, “Would I How can I change it? How can I make things better? How can I tap into my curiosity forever?”
I discovered this when I went from a full-time professor-turned-entrepreneur at McMaster University’s Department of Medicine to co-founding Acuity Insights (formerly Altus Assessments), a Toronto-based company with 150 employees. It all starts with an assessment that challenges the notion of what it takes to be a good doctor, nurse, teacher or businessman. The test measures social intelligence and professionalism used in conjunction with knowledge measures – we’ve found that the more comprehensive we assess someone, the more we can understand and support them.
I saw a problem and realized that game-changing innovations were possible. We have now expanded to a full range of products for higher education programs that connect critical data across the learner journey from application to graduation, providing key data points to inform decision-making. Acuity works with more than 530 higher education programs worldwide.
My experience shows that just about anyone can spot an opportunity in their day-to-day work and turn it into a viable business.Here are five things you can do when the opportunity arises you New ventures can be knocked out:
Related: How to Know When That Business Idea Is Good Enough to Pursue
1. Be aware of workarounds
You know when we put a stack of books on the floor, the longer they sit there the easier it is to move around? Over time, we even forget they exist, as we become so used to finding alternate routes.
The spark for my business started when I realized that an ineffective workaround — relying on letters of recommendation and personal statements when evaluating a student’s application — wasn’t going to solve the problem. They are inherently biased. Medical schools, including my own, need to do a better job of accepting students. There is more to being a good doctor than academic grades, high grades or knowledge. It’s about how you apply that knowledge to serve your patients using communication skills, empathy, collaboration, professionalism and ethics.
So we did our due diligence: We spent more than five years gathering data and refining our assessment tools to make sure we were measuring what mattered. Then other programs and institutions started to take an interest in what we did. But we wondered: Can we give them access to our innovative software? Should we monetize it? It wasn’t long before I realized that our pioneering business idea locked in an ivory tower was ready for the real world.
2. Listen to yourself
Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what we’re most passionate about, especially when we’re juggling so many priorities at once. To zero in on ideas that might hold your interest and enthusiasm for the long haul, you need to listen to yourself. If, a few years ago, I had taped myself talking about the need to reform medical school assessment, I believe I would have recognized it as a genuine passion.
So discuss your project with a friend or someone in your network. Have you lit the lamp? Get more energized? random? These leads could be the springboard to turning a side hustle into a new career, possibly even revolutionizing your industry in the process.
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3. Be aware of where you spend your extra time
Even if you don’t have time to give, how do you spend your extra time? Are you passionate about a side project and can’t stop tinkering with it? Do you tend to confide in certain meetings or ask more questions on a particular topic? Pay attention to what drives you.
Still, jumping from a well-respected career in academia to a little-known startup isn’t easy. Over the years, I worked long hours as a professor in college, and then worked even longer hours on evenings and weekends. I’m at a turning point where I realize I have to change my priorities if I want to make a difference. When I was seven months pregnant, I eventually gave up my security career in academia to become a full-on entrepreneur, building Acuity Insights with my co-founder Harold Reiter, a Radiation oncologists, the job is just as tough. Because I am able to follow my curiosity, I never give up, even when the going gets tough.
4. Prepare to fight back
When I first decided to leave my full-time college career and enter the corporate world, I sent an email to my colleagues telling them – some of them accidentally CC’d me on what they said to others on mine Decided response. That Eye-opening; but I know many of them may not have considered careers outside of academia. But then at the meeting, I was able to share with them why I was so passionate and excited. I can tell them my “why”. I’ve realized that my “why” isn’t about my career — it’s about how I can make the most impact.
If you experience resistance to a career change, reach out to people who have already made the same leap or are working in the field you want to enter to understand the obstacles and opportunities you may face. And don’t forget to spend some time digging into your own “why”. Knowing what really drives you will keep you working toward your goals.
Related: 10 Things You Must Do Before You Quit Your Job and Start a Business
5. Get out of trouble
If you told me ten years ago that I was going to be the VP and co-founder of a business, I wouldn’t have believed you. I thought I didn’t have the right skills. Sometimes we assume we can only do our current roles and have a very fixed idea of our possibilities. But as someone entrenched in the industry, you may bring valuable perspective and expertise to wider issues. There are plenty of people with degrees in sales, marketing and accounting who can be hired. But innovators bring vision. Understand this and get out of your own way. Over time, your vision, curiosity and enthusiasm spark innovation in those around you.
Pay attention to what’s happening at work — and what inspires you — to discover the next industry-changing business idea. Because when forging a new career path, passion and curiosity rule.