In the business world, refusal to change and innovate is a death sentence for a business. The business world is based around competition, and if you don’t change with the times, then you’re going to be left behind. The competitiveness has only gotten harsher as technology became widespread. Now, almost anyone can get their hands on game changing resources to bring their business to the next level. If you want to survive and then thrive, innovation is a crucial element of your business formula.

What is innovation?

Let’s be clear- innovation is not the same as invention. Invention means that you’ve thought up something new. But innovation means that you have applied that idea commercially and executed it successfully. At its most simple, innovation means bringing something new into your business. It has many aspects that it can apply to; improving upon or replacing processes in the business (for efficiency and productivity), developing new products/services to meet the newest needs of your customers, or a totally new product/service.

A good example of innovation is a burger restaurant offering a vegetarian or vegan burger option so their products appeal to a wider audience. Burger King did this when it introduced the wildly popular “Impossible Whopper”, a vegan burger option, to their menu.

Benefits of the innovation process

  • Improving efficiency & productivity
  • Adding congruent revenue streams
  • Streamlining costs
  • Being more competitive
  • Build value of your brand
  • Expanding your client base
  • Increase profits

Consequences of not innovating

  • Losing out to competitors
  • Failing productivity
  • Unnecessary financial waste
  • Profits go into decline
  • Eventually going out of business

Blockbuster refused to innovate when Netflix started gaining traction. They thought their business model and methods couldn’t be beat. But they were very wrong. Netflix quickly overtook Blockbuster and eventually forced them out of business.

How do I start innovating?

Although sometimes inspiration for new products/services will hit you out of nowhere, that is not the ideal way that you want to be innovating. Innovation should mostly come from a strategic angle, working towards a vision of the future and using the information gathered by research to get there.

Designate funding to go towards innovation and development in your company. If you’re putting resources towards it, you have a better chance of getting viable ideas!

The actual innovation process starts with analyzing your market. What do your customers want? More importantly; what do they need? When you figure out what’s missing from your industry that you could offer, pursue that opportunity! Information is useless if you don’t do anything with it. If you have information that one of your close competitors have excellent service but cheap, not-so-excellent products, then you can crank up your marketing and emphasize how amazing the quality of your products is.

How do I promote innovation?

Make sure that your processes efficiently capture ideas. Doing things like putting up suggestion boxes for the office and your customers and having brainstorming sessions can really up the creativity of your company, letting you gather new ideas more easily. Another great idea is sending out online surveys to your customers to see what new ideas they might have for your business. Offer bonuses or rewards for people whose ideas are selected! Encourage your employees to experiment and think outside the box. When you’re hiring new employees, look for people with high creativity and a lot of imagination.

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