David Schmidt of Lifewave talks about the importance of inventors

You don’t have to travel far on the internet to find someone praising the visionary work of some of today’s leading business minds. Often, this praise is heaped on business leaders who are orchestrating large-scale mergers or taking an existing business idea and repurposing it as their own. I don’t deny that this type of incremental advancement is a way to achieve a measure of success in business. However, I think that by making it our focus, we neglect the importance of another key business practice — invention. Since it’s played such an important role in my professional success, I figured I’d take some time to talk about why inventors are still the lifeblood of modern business.

The fundamental premise of business is that it helps people solve problems. The idea is that individual enterprises are created when a person (or group of people) has an idea about how to solve an existing problem better than anyone else. This might be an unresolved issue whose solution has just now been created, or it may be an issue that has been solved in some manner, but a newer and better fix may be available. The issue could be longstanding, or it could be new — perhaps created through an unrelated business advancement. Whatever the specifics, the fact remains that a focused enterprise, at its core, is one of the main ways that these issues can ultimately be resolved.

To do that, we require imagination. I like to define imagination as the ability to think of something that doesn’t yet exist. This trait is critical for advancement in business. It allows us to create entirely new products and services, and it also allows us to reimagine a purpose for an existing product or service. This is what business is largely about — imagining solutions. And the creation of those solutions through imagination is largely the purview of a specific type of person — an inventor.

We’ve probably all come up with an idea for some gizmo or gadget over the course of our lives. While those ideas are laudable, they don’t often lead to much if they’re not further expanded. It’s when we attempt to bring an idea into the world that we begin to understand its limitations and where it can be improved upon. Rather than it being a theoretical concept that may or may not work, bringing an idea into the world allows us to evaluate its usefulness. It allows us to realize the potential benefits of an instance of imagination.

This process is what I consider to be the meat and potatoes of inventing. In practice, it typically involves prototyping. Prototyping, which is essentially the process of bringing an idea to life, is critical to innovation, and it’s what sets apart the inventors from the daydreamers. I’ve met with my fair share of frustrations during the prototyping process, as well as my share of successes. I’m familiar enough with the process of invention at this point that I truly applaud the work of any inventor willing to get down in the mud and wrangle an idea into existence. It’s not easy work. But it sure can be fun!

We tend to think that the “real” work of business involves mergers, marketing, and sales and other visible activities of business. While those things have their place, I would assert that it’s the inventor engaging in the “meat and potatoes” work that deserves much of our praise. Without an innovative product or service, a business would have nothing to offer in a merger. Without the creation of a new solution to a problem, a business would find it difficult to distinguish itself.

This concept is underscored by whom we hold as some of the most esteemed businesspeople in modern history. The pantheon of modern business greats is populated by individuals who have innovated a new idea for a product or service and have doggedly pursued it. These business minds have been responsible for some of the biggest shifts in how we interact with each other and the world around us. Hewlett, Packard, Gates, Jobs, Bezos, Musk, Sikorsky, Wright Brothers, Ford, Edison, Bell… the list is long!

Even at LifeWave, I am proud to say we have created (and continue to create) real solutions to problems in health and wellness that tap into previously unexplored technologies or methods, just like the inventing titans we have all heard of have done in their respective industries. We’re innovating in ways that genuinely contribute to quality of life everywhere. It would seem that the world agrees with what we are doing, since we’ve expanded greatly over our more than 15 years of existence.

I don’t say that to brag. Rather, I use it as a piece of data to underscore my main point: Business can be complex, and it’s not always obvious where the real innovation in any field takes place. Allow me to posit that a good deal of this work can be traced to the efforts of inventors and their abilities to tirelessly solve problems in new and innovative ways. That’s why inventors still matter greatly.

David Schmidt is the CEO of LifeWave, a leading health and wellness company he founded in 2002. More about David Schmidt at https://davidschmidtlifewave.com/