When was the last time you saw something and wondered, “Why didn’t I think about it?” Many small business owners mistakenly believe that only large companies, armed with scientists and large research and development budgets, are capable of real innovation. But you might not realize that small businesses actually get the better of innovation.
Globalization, digitalization and changing regulations have raised uncertainties that push many large companies to stick with what they know rather than exploring the possibilities. Built-in business constraints can lead to months or years of evaluating new ideas, and strict adherence to a more traditional corporate culture escapes reflection.
Small businesses, on the other hand, have more flexibility to make decisions quickly, reallocate resources to new ideas, and get to market first. A more adaptive entrepreneurial approach presents an opportunity for new thinking. Innovation is less the result of careful planning and predictive analysis than of the fluidity to surpass market demands.
About the Author
Jay Ripton is a freelance writer on technology, business and the Scottsdale lifestyle.
This type of change can ultimately transform the entire trajectory of your business by deploying a product or service that consumers cannot live without. Here are five ways to promote innovation in your organization:
Identify what needs to change
With globalization driving competition from emerging markets, it’s time to strategically assess where your organization can really add value, and then leave the rest behind. Focus on a few distinct skills that deliver profitability and give people what they want.
Carefully examine how your products or services are performing against the market to understand the value your customers ultimately get from their acquisition. What factors could be eliminated or reduced, and what factors could go beyond the norm to offer consumers something that is not yet available? This exercise can provide a more compelling vision with a clear, overarching goal that can help inspire commitment and achieve your ultimate goals.
Be more entrepreneurial
Many companies operate on the simple principle that they must understand the competition and then manufacture products that will dominate the defined market. This generally works well for large, established businesses and products or services in high demand. Eventually, however, products are copied and commoditized, resulting in lower profits and less time and money for innovation. These companies may have more money to invest, but they are often afraid to take risks with their reputation.
Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, often avoid rigid business models and assume that actions and beliefs can create new demand for higher profits. They don’t necessarily believe in borders and market structure, which gives them more freedom to identify and develop untapped markets.
Think like an entrepreneur.
Obsolete tools and processes hamper innovation by reducing efficiency, hiding new opportunities and reducing space for creativity. A host of new cloud-based software solutions provide collaborative tools to gather, share, develop and refine new ideas.
Consider these examples of intuitive and easy-to-use tools:
- MindMeister is a cloud-based mind-mapping tool for brainstorming, note-taking, project planning, and other creative tasks. Mind maps with MindMeister can be turned into dynamic presentations, and collaborators can comment, vote on ideas, and discuss changes in a built-in chat function.
- Brilliant idea is a cloud-based platform that breaks silos between divisions by facilitating activities such as crowdsourcing and hackathons to accelerate good ideas within an organization. It connects the entire innovation process from design, experimentation and development into a single, scalable platform that tracks results to measure return on investment in the business.
- Kantree is a project management platform that allows the organization and dissemination of your innovation. Built around Kanban cards like many PM solutions, Kantree goes the extra mile to allow these cards to be completely personalized for more creative processes. Cards can also be created via email and real-time conversations can take place directly on the cards so that ideas and discussions about a task accompany the task and never get lost.
- Quip allows employees to create and edit various documents in the cloud, then comment and have real-time discussions on individual files, reducing emails and automating record keeping. Unlike similar offerings, Quip integrates deeply with the CRM solution of choice for many businesses, Salesforce. This allows for a deeper and more collaborative environment than most other solutions.
Adapt to customer preferences
Consumers are demanding and cannot stand poor service. If they feel like they’re just a number for you, they’ll give up on your brand. It is important that your customers feel valued and heard.
Innovation requires staying on top of the wants and needs of your consumers, even when faced with difficult volumes of customer service requests. The interconnected and digitized world offers the ability to stay connected, manage operations and market your brand to millions of people around the world in record time. You can take advantage of websites, emails, social media, and apps by engaging consumers in your innovation, allowing them to virtually test concepts, get their feedback on designs, or even solicit recommendations. on prices and product positioning.
Encourage and reward unique thinkers
Your workforce is your greatest asset. Leadership, from CEO to line manager, must openly support innovation activities, demonstrate genuine attentive listening, and provide positive and constructive feedback. This creates an environment of trust and encourages more buy-in and motivation from employees at all levels.
Employees should also feel that their contributions are valued. Innovators who are not adequately rewarded will end up simply going back to doing what’s in their job description or, worse, leaving the organization. When evaluating new candidates for vacancies, resist the urge to base your decisions on more formal criteria (education and experience) and ask probing questions to find out if they’ve achieved anything new and exciting. for their former employers. Look for skills that could lead to more revolutionary thinking within your existing workforce.
On a more micro level, think about how you build your teams. Identify influencers in your organization who see change and competition as an opportunity rather than a threat and who can use their positive attitude to promote more creative thinking. A greater focus on the psychological side of performance can help drive strategic change forward, often at a lower cost.
Innovation requires thinking outside the box to identify new opportunities. This is not only accessible to small businesses, it is one of their advantages. Some of the most creative products available today come from small businesses, but only those who take a new approach will get there.