Regardless of your industry, competition will always be ready to overtake you. When business is doing well there can be a tendency to settle in and go with the flow. But if your competition is paying more attention to changes in buying habits, trends, demographics, technology or any number of other changes going on in the marketplace, they’ll leap ahead. So rather than succumb to the danger of the comfort zone, each new season is a perfect time to evaluate change and foster business innovation. Whether your organization is large or small, what’s important is that you keep innovating.
Six Ways to Spur Business Innovation
Establish a brainstorming forum
Set up specific times when employees can openly express their thoughts about everything from how your internal processes are operating to the actual products/services you provide your client base. Create a welcoming environment for ideas to be freely expressed. Here, no idea is too ridiculous. Sometimes an idea that seems off base can be just the thing to prod a new idea that really works. Stay open to everyone’s input, regardless of position or age. Hold all criticism for post evaluation. If you’re not the person to facilitate openness, get someone who is. The main thing is to make the environment safe so that everyone feels comfortable to contribute.
Who are the clients you have the longest, trusted relationships with? The ones who love you? When is the last time you reached out to reinforce those valued relationships? When is the last time you had a cup of coffee with them and asked for help with referrals? In a survey of women business owners asked what they do to remain positive when there are challenges, 92 percent noted they counted on networking and building relationships. It’s important to never lose that edge.
Collaborate with others
Sometimes the way to make the pie bigger is to share with others who have a vested interest in your success. Are there other people you could partner with, in or out of your specific area of business? Others are experiencing the same changes that you are and are likely looking for new money opportunities as well. Often, if you help others make money, you’ll make money, too.
Review what failed
Look at things that have not worked in the past—whether it’s an internal process or sales technique. Often looking at what didn’t work, evaluating why and tweaking it just a bit, creates a solution in what may have previously been a problem.
Review the wins
Likewise, just because something seems to work now, doesn’t mean it can’t be improved, augmented, updated…or more importantly, applied to another area. Sometimes the things we think are fine have actually passed their prime and caused us to be complacent, which leads to decline. Walt Disney said, “When you blend the old with the new, you get new again.” What old success might work better if you blend it with the new?
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes
With today’s constantly change, chances are most of your customers are going through similar challenges. What kind of excuses are you hearing? What lessons can you learn through them? Dig beneath comments to unearth what’s really being said and use that information to be their problem solver.
Leaders Seek Constant Improvement
Successful business leaders take time to look into the future, think innovatively and gain an edge on their competition proactively. They excel by identifying new needs to meet. They constantly seek to grow. Are you one of these leaders? If not, it’s time to take the time to spur business innovation.