Innovation Overload was first published on Women in Focus.

Women in Focus is a website and initiative by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.  It is a place for women to be inspired, informed and connected with other women in business in Australia and around the world.  Angela Vithoulkas, CEO of VIVO Cafe Group, radio broadcaster of Eagle Waves Radio and public speaker, will be the Guru on the Business Beat section and will be providing weekly articles on all things small business.

wheelsLet’s start with some big words; cutting edge, innovative, extremely big WOW factor, world first, powerfully creative, world class leader. Did you sit up straighter as you read these words or did you start to feel inferior ever so slightly? What if you are a regular business owner who didn’t re invent the wheel or discover a new strand of DNA? What if your ambitions don’t include world domination, just a good life for you and your family? Where do you sit in this business dominion that seems to rejoice and celebrate you only if they can label you “innovative” and “creative”? Well, you would be sitting with me. Hi. Welcome to my world.

Yes, I wear many business hats, but let’s focus on the big part of my pie – my café. I don’t make or sell anything that you can’t buy anywhere else. We may make an excellent coffee, and a delicious raisin toast but honestly so do many other cafes. Ok, my business ego is screaming right now, but the fact remains my business is not unique, I am not innovative and I don’t care how much marketing or PR you use to dress it up. The fact remains a café is a café and it isn’t rocket science.

Titanic & Small Businesses

It is a huge amount of very very hard work, of long ridiculously stressful days and often unpaid weeks. It’s full of moments that fill you with questions that don’t end with positive answers. Anyone putting their hand up yet? I’m quite sure that there are many of you in the same boat, even if it isn’t a café.

This boat – while not called the Titanic, just happens to be loaded with hard workers dedicated to their business who actually like what they do even if the world doesn’t find them exciting or unique. In my dreams, success never included innovative or creative commentary. It included lots of other things but not that. And I guess I’m annoyed that we “regular folk” seem to be the wall flowers in the business dance.

Remember Us!

I am not diminishing the talent that is obviously part of innovation, and I am very aware that without these talented people technology would still be black & white and none of my devices would exist. I want to ensure that those of us who don’t meet these new world criteria are not thought less of or worse, forgotten. I know it may be a bit of wounded pride, forgive me if it sounds like sour grapes, but it’s not like there are award categories for “been around the longest” or “I’m still standing even after the GFC” and “I’m not the next big thing”.

I am a hard working business owner; I come from a family of them. I am not afraid of working 24 hours straight – been there too many times, and I face a battle everyday. It takes a special spirit to keep going and it takes courage to maintain the spirit. Those qualities don’t come under innovation or creativity. They come under dedicated, driven, focused. They may also come under “medication required” lol. Nevertheless, we are a people who are underrated and under acknowledged. I salute you, every single one of you who keeps our nation going, in spite of what gets thrown at us.

Supply & Demand

To the few who are the innovators – keep it up, you will most likely make my job easier I hope! To the creative’s – I’m impressed with creativity; you make the world look better. But you are the minority, and you need us the majority too. Otherwise where would you get your inspiration from?

For every small business owner, each warrior that you are, every adventure that is your daily routine, rest assured that our extinction is not forthcoming. Innovators & creators need coffee; they need their paper, dry cleaning, bookkeeping, groceries, fruit & vegetables, their grass cut and their car washed. Lucky for them, they have us.

Although you’re business type may not be unique – like me, what makes you stand out from the crowd?

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