3 Easy Ways to Stay Relevant Through Innovation
“Innovate, innovate, innovate,” goes the mantra of the entrepreneurial age. It’s understandable, especially when you stop to consider that even the most established businesses who have failed to sufficiently innovate have fallen by the wayside (think Kmart and Blockbuster).
Innovation in today’s fast-paced environment is no easy task, with more new products, services, and technologies becoming available on a daily basis than are possible to keep up with, and competition in many sectors increasingly stiff. In other words, the question isn’t whether or not to innovate, but how? The following four tips should help you discover the answer that’s unique for your business.
The goals of every business and every entrepreneur are unique, which is why your plan for incorporating innovation will be as well. Sometimes in the frantic effort to ensure the bottom line, however, the vision behind a company can get a little hazy. That’s why, in order to innovate effectively, it’s important to take some time out from your regular schedule to focus on creativity.
Use this as an opportunity to remind yourself of what you hope to achieve in the long term, and why. Rediscovering or simply reinforcing your motivation will help you identify the areas of your business which you feel deserve the most attention. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to explore ways in which innovation can help you meet your goals.
Every entrepreneur is infatuated with the idea of success, and rightfully so. No person in their right mind would start a business with the goal of seeing it fail completely. Unfortunately for many, this simple fact gives rise to an unnecessary fear of failure, and with it, an unwillingness to take risks. While catastrophic failure is certainly an undesirable outcome, losing a battle does not equate to losing a war. In other words, a successful long-term strategy almost always involves the ability to take calculated risks.
In order to invite innovation into your business, you’ll also need to pass this mindset on to your employees and colleagues. This doesn’t mean you should be lax in your expectations regarding what your staff should be accomplishing. What it does mean is that your staff needs to feel that their ideas and efforts are welcome and encouraged. Bold decisions aren’t always right ones, but making them can help a company venture into new and often profitable territory.
In the classic story of David and Goliath, it was a simple slingshot and small rock that felled a larger-than-life enemy. Although business doesn’t equate directly with warfare, the two share more than a few similarities, and oftentimes a successful strategy in either begins with a small but efficient weapon. In the world of entrepreneurship, this can have two main advantages.
First, you’ll be less likely to send investors and collaborators into “anxiety mode” by introducing small-scale innovations than cross-departmental policy changes or a re-invention of your business model. Second, these incremental changes can offer those same people, as well as your staff, a glimpse at the value of innovation, and increase their willingness to consider the viability of bigger ideas.
An affinity for innovation is a core characteristic of almost every entrepreneur and is responsible for the huge success of hundreds of start-ups every year. As important as innovation is in starting a business, however, it’s even more important for keeping one relevant and profitable over time. Making ongoing innovation into a key element of your business plan can take time and creativity, but will pay off in the long run by making your company stand out from its competitors.