Managing existing clients, attracting new business and the day to day trials of running a small business can make the idea of innovation seem a step too far for owners. Innovation might seem a luxury only afforded to large organisations with a large well of resources and deep pockets. However, without innovation all businesses will suffer and ultimately fail as their ability to adapt and take advantage of emerging opportunities is reduced. How then can a small business contemplate and begin to benefit from innovation in this environment? Here we suggest some simple steps small business owners can take to bring innovation into the organisation.
#1 – START SMALL
Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes and needn’t have to be a game changer each time. Small, incremental improvements can start to move the dial in your favour so look at existing processes, markets or customers first to see what small changes can be implemented quickly to create value.
#2 – EMBRACE IDEAS FROM ALL PARTS OF THE ORGANISATION
Create space for innovation and encourage participation from all areas of the business. Invite suggestions from all constituents including suppliers and customers and reward any involvement.
#3 – ALWAYS IN BETA
Many of the tech companies in Silicon Valley have the mindset of always being in Beta or test mode. Nothing is ever complete or final but always in a state of flux and continual improvement. Try to create a culture that is always looking to find a better way, every day.
#4 FAST FAIL
We’ve heard this before but innovation is not always about success, it’s about learning and ultimately creating enduring business capability. This cannot be achieved without failure, so reframe the idea of failure into learning opportunities. Fail fast, fail cheaply and fail often.
#5 CREATE INNOVATION EVENTS
A good way to get an instant injection of innovation into the organisation is to hold an innovation event. This could be as simple as a brainstorm on a particular business challenge or something more structured like a working group or innovation lab. Focus on a few key elements of the business (e.g. reducing waste, tackling a competitor, raising awareness) and see what happens.
#6 STUDY ANALOGOUS INDUSTRIES
Observe how other industries have solved problems to see how you can borrow and adapt the ideas for your own business challenges. It’s all about recognising and relating ideas to your own business.
#7 RAPID PROTOTYPING
Creating a rapid prototype is a great way to explain a solution and get it off the ground quickly. This might be a model of your idea, a simple storyboard or just a picture. It needs to be rough and incomplete so people can add to or adapt the idea or discard it quickly is not feasible.
In summary then, innovation is a critical weapon in your armoury for success and the best new is, everyone can do it. It’s about having the desire and creating some space to begin the journey. These are some simple ideas to start to create a culture of innovation in your organisation, no matter how small. Now is the time to make that first step because your competition may be reading this also.
This guest blog was provided by Bernard Page from Lead Idea
25 years experience in marketing will help me quickly get under the skin of your marketing challenge and provide workable, commercial solutions for your organisation. I listen carefully and take the time to understand the critical issues and develop a personalised, honest response designed to drive enduring value at speed.
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