By: Zach Kaiser – Strategic Risk Advisor, McClone
I recently came across a Forbes article titled: Top 10 Risks Businesses Fear the Most and decided to dedicate this week’s blog post to No. 6: Failure to Innovate.
Technology has come a long way since back in the 90’s. I can remember sitting in front of my computer monitor waiting for a picture to appear across the screen as each pixel slowly loaded. Not to mention the buzzing and chirping sounds from my dial-up modem that could be heard from miles away. At this point in history there was little reason to believe that the internet would develop into the tool that it is today.
Around the start of the 21st century broadband internet connections, which provide much faster access to the internet than dial-up, paved the way for the internet that we know today. Online shopping, up-to-the-minute media, email and instant messaging were all publicly accessible as a result of the high-speed internet access provided by broadband. Technology advancements such as these have led us to where we are today, in the smart phone era. People now have the capability to access the internet with the simple touch of a button, while on-the-go.
This is a classic example of innovation. Rather than accessing the internet via my clunky, inconvenient dial-up modem, there was a better solution that eventually came along that saved myself many headaches and more importantly time.
In today’s market, innovation is a key component to every business’s success. As technology changes, so does your customer’s needs. You simply cannot afford to resort to: “that is how we’ve always done business.” Albert Einstein is credited with the quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” That is exactly what non-innovative businesses do. They resist change, they fail to look at the rapidly changing business landscape, and they fail to adapt—all of which can threaten their survival.
Here are three tips to help your business innovate and succeed in today’s competitive market:
1. Remove money from the equation to get the ideas flowing.
Think outside of the box. What would your business do differently if money was not a factor? How would this change the manufacturing and marketing of your product or service? What else is limiting your business besides financial restrictions? Would this give you an edge on competition? Would it create value for your customers? "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower," the late Steve Jobs said. "It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it."
2. Ideas can come from anywhere.
I’m not saying that you should jump onto any and every idea that comes across your desk, but nothing should be discount due to the credibility of the source. Employees that work on the ground-level often bring a unique perspective to the table on how your product or service can better the lives of your customer’s. They’re the ones that are exposed to your product or service on a day-to-day basis and have a full understanding for the strengths and weaknesses.
Whether it’s with your employees, customers or potential buyers, just having the conversation of, “what can we offer to make your experience better,” can spark ideas on how to innovate. These types of ideas can be very profitable. Oftentimes businesses overlook the glaring innovations that are right in front of them. Go find them!
3. Take time to work on the business.
Too often, small business owners get caught up in the day-to-day mentality. Thinking about how they can survive another week, until the end of the month or the end of the year, but lose sight on the big picture. Spoken by a small business owner, “when business is good, you’re too busy for anything else, and when business is slow, you’re too busy trying to make it busy again, you don’t have time for anything else.” As the owner of a small business, it’s important to take a step back and plan for the future. Five, ten years from now, how is your business going to stay relevant in today’s competitive market?