Innovate or Kiss Your Business Goodbye

The status quo can be a very comfortable place to be.  Doing what you’ve always done feels safe and secure.  You can coast along quite nicely thank you very much with a steady hand on the tiller.  But be careful, the status quo can also be a dangerous place.  You may not want to change, but the world and your marketplace is constantly on the move.  Customers have a rapacious appetite for new products and services and therefore the status quo could put you out of business.

Just look at the problems experienced by Kodak, a former giant in the photographic industry that filed for bankruptcy in 2012 (from which it has since emerged, albeit a smaller entity). According to many commentators, the company that invented the hand-held camera failed to read the disruptive changes in the digital market and got left behind while its competitors kept on innovating.  Other examples of firms steamrollered by the status quo are Woolworths, Polaroid and Blockbuster.

Progress of lighting with candle, tungsten, fluorescent and LED

Innovation is the fuel that can power the growth of your company.

According to a global survey of 1,757 business leaders by PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), 93% of executives believe that organic growth through innovation will drive the greater proportion of their revenue growth. The report’s authors went on to say that: “Companies that are too complacent about their existing innovation capabilities, or not prepared to adopt new innovation models risk being overtaken by more innovative competitors.”

Innovation doesn’t necessarily mean you have to create world-beating and disruptive innovations, more it’s about being open to introducing new ideas, fresh ways of working and being highly responsive to your customers’ needs.  It can be anything from creating new business models and combining existing products and services to developing completely new offerings.

So, how can small and medium-sized businesses use innovation to stay ahead of the pack and power their success?

  • Encourage a culture of innovation – this is where employers let their employees know that innovation is a job requirement.  From the lowliest worker to the CEO, everyone should be free to submit ideas.
  • Give people time and space to be creative – Google is one of the world’s most successful companies because it is one of the most forward thinking.  One way it stays on top is by feeding the innovation pipeline, and it does that by tapping into its employees and giving them time to work on pet projects.  In fact, employees spend 20% of their paid time on whatever they want.
  • Don’t smother crazy ideas – nobody knows where the next big hit will come from.  That’s as true in your company as it is for the big global boys and girls.  Let employees explore even the craziest ideas.  Maybe they won’t work out maybe they will, but cutting them off at the beginning because they might seem silly to you is the wrong way to go about innovation.  In exploring the crazy ideas, something wonderful might emerge as they are fine tweaked and honed into shape.
  • Have a hackathon – these are popular with social media companies when coming up with new apps.  Employees will huddle together for a concentrated period of time to ideate, share new ideas and work on the best ones.  This form of creative brainstorming can work well in any industry.
  • Don’t penalise failure – one of the reasons why some employees daren’t put forward any ideas is that they fear being penalised if their suggestions ultimately fail.  Innovation is risky and there will be failures.  It is an important part of growth as valuable lessons can be learned when things don’t turn out right.  Let people know that failure will not be frowned on.

Innovate or Die

Like a desert needs the rain, companies must innovate to survive and thrive.  Resting on your laurels and standing still will put you in the same category as the dinosaurs – extinct!

Innovation will not only keep your head above water in an increasingly competitive world, but it may be help you to outperform your competitors and soar high into the stratosphere.

Got a great idea you want to share with your business? Here are some tips on how to make them LOVE your idea! – eBook: Great Ideas Don’t Sell Themselves

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