In this new age of pop-up enterprises and kick-starter empires, innovation has been the driving force behind many new business superpowers. Think of the likes of Uber, a taxi service that doesn’t have a single taxi to its name, or Airbnb, a first choice for tourist accommodation without actually owning the rooms it provides. Every day, innovators are finding new ways to work outside the constraints of regular business, increasing productivity and improving their bottom line.

Do you have what it takes to be an innovator? Answer these five questions and find out.

Did you know that innovation starts with a question? When you think about the last century’s top business innovators, who springs to mind? Richard Branson, perhaps, or Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg too. No matter who you’re thinking of, they all got to where they were by asking the questions no one else was asking. So if you haven’t been habitually questioning everything around you, it’s time to get into the habit of being inquisitive.

Are you plugged in and switched on to the world around you? Perhaps Richard Branson’s Virgin Cola might have succeeded in a world where there was no Coca-Cola, and Dr Annique Theron might not have turned Rooibos tea into an internationally recognised trademark if it had not been unique to South Africa to start with. This proves that you may come up with something never thought of before that becomes an overnight sensation… or not. There are no bad ideas in terms of innovation, only ideas that you can use right now and ideas that you can’t. Knowing the difference means being in touch with the world around you, and knowing how to leverage that knowledge to your advantage.

Have you ever heard of a little word called “no”? The multi-talented tycoon Howard Hughes was notorious for turning nay-sayers into flytraps with his jaw-dropping feats of success. This is the first sign of a good innovator – someone who doesn’t take “no” for an answer. That’s because for all the times people say “no”, they are almost just as likely to say “yes” later down the line. Delete “no” from your vocabulary immediately. Replace it with questions like “how?” and “later maybe?”.

Do you surround yourself with greatness? Elon Musk is arguably one of the most out-of-the-box business pioneers of our time. However, many people forget that while he may have asked the right questions, he needed a whole team of people behind him to build on his ideas and come up with ways to monetise them. Don’t hide your ideas away because if you do, that’s where they’ll remain.

Do you value failure? Elon Musk famously said: “If you’re not failing, then you’re not innovating enough”. That’s because while failure does not guarantee success in the future, it is a common precursor. Take Donald Trump as an example. Despite being declared bankrupt multiple times, Trump made his name synonymous with success – not to mention the phrase, “You’re fired”. The aim should always be to use your failures to find the formula for future triumph. Sometimes getting pointed in the right direction can help you save some time on this step though – something business mentorship will definitely help you with.

Harry Welby-Cooke is the Co-Master Licensee in Southern Africa for ActionCOACH, the fastest growing and largest business coaching company globally. Harry and his partner, Pieter Scholtz, developed ActionCOACH across Southern Africa, which now boasts over 30 franchisees. He is also a certified, leading business and executive coach. He has successfully assisted countless business owners and executives to significantly grow their profits and develop their entrepreneurial skills. www.actioncoach.co.za / 012 665 1015. Franchise Enquiries: Pieter Scholtz / Harry Welby-Cooke – pieterscholtz@actioncoach.com/harrywelbycooke@actioncoach.com