Whether you have a startup business or an ongoing business, you need to be innovative. A cell phone with a camera outsells a cell phone without a camera; an established restaurant increases its business by beginning a home delivery service; a 3D printer becomes the new, gotta-have-it printer. What drives the effort to find innovative products and services? The answer is simple: in business—startups or ongoing—innovative strategies lead to success. You need to keep driving forward.
Innovation means renewing, improving, upgrading, and becoming better, faster, more efficient, and more attractive. The need for innovation never ends, and there has never been so much of it as there is in small business today. If you are an entrepreneur with a startup or an ongoing small business and are not always thinking about how to change and improve it, start thinking about it right now. When your business is up and running smoothly, it is the perfect time to start planning how to improve all aspects of it and we want to help. If you are already an innovator, you can become even better.
Here are Nine Tips on How to Become More Innovative
1) Be Open to Change
Every business can benefit by innovation. Be open to new ideas and to change, and you will find this exciting process more natural, and your opportunities for improving, expanding, streamlining, and marketing your business will be enhanced. Always be ready for the next step.
2) Listen to Your Customers
Every product and service has a target market. To make sure you are reaching and satisfying that market, you have to understand your customers so well that you know what they need before they know it, and before your competitors know it. As an innovator, you need to listen to your clients, take note of their likes and dislikes, and react to them as soon as you can. Open a communication channel by either reaching out personally or online, and encourage client participation by offering rewards for responses. You can use Google forms or choose from a variety of forms and apps. Make sure the process is comfortable and rewarding for your clients in order to maximize the response rate and learn what to consider when making your next business move.
3) Listen to Your Employees
Employees who are in contact with your customers have an important role to play in your innovative strategy. Create a culture of innovation within your company by encouraging your staff to track the feedback from customers, and establish periodic review dates where they share what they learn with you. Make sure your employees understand that this process gives them a say in the direction the company takes and they can help guide your decisions by providing feedback and ideas.
4) Find Inspiration
You can stimulate your creative ideas through inspiration from others. Put inspirational quotes, icons, and symbols in visible places at work, on your phone, and perhaps on a private panel on Pinterest. Read biographies and watch TV and movies about successful, inspirational figures and also about those who have been unwise and lost everything.
The innovative artist Salvador Dalí said, “Those who do not want to imitate anything produce nothing.” Prepare to learn by imitating others, using success formulas and improving on them, and learning from the mistakes others have made. Inspiration can help generate new ideas that lead to innovative business practices, and help you avoid costly errors.
5) Find a Mentor
Being guided by one or more mentors is one of the oldest and most successful methods of learning, finding direction, and becoming successful. Mentors guide not only careers but also lives. A mentor can maximize your learning, your skills, and your performance, and influence your entire life.
Select from your favorite business icons or from those who have inspired you. Send a letter or, if possible, make a personal visit. Sincerely and professionally request help and any guidance the person is willing to offer. You will be surprised at the positive responses. People at the top of their profession almost always had mentors at important points in their careers and understand what you are asking for and why. Don’t give up or take it personally if you are turned down. Some people are not in a position to act as a mentor when you ask, but you will find one eventually if you persist.
6) Consider a Partnership
It is very common to see big companies creating a new product together. Often a piece of the puzzle is missing and a company can’t turn its idea into a successful product or service without help. If this is the position you are in, instead of spending time and money trying to develop some innovative idea on your own, consider forming a partnership with a company that can supply the missing piece.
7) Pursue knowledge
Knowledge is certainly a major trigger for innovation, and people often assume that the only way to acquire knowledge is by reading books and taking courses. However, there are other good ways of acquiring the knowledge necessary for innovation. Try these:
- Attending seminars and meetings
- Watching documentaries and YouTube
- Reading magazines
- Reading articles and blogs on the Internet
- Listening to podcasts and audio books
8) Become More Social
Social media is a useful and necessary tool for innovative business owners. If you learn how to use social networks professionally, they will help you identify trends, check out potential partners, and allow you to interact with clients, customers, and others in your industry or business.
9) Use Tools That Stimulate Innovation
There are excellent tools available to help you with the organization of your innovation processes:
- Business Model Canvas (for Entrepreneurs): The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool. It allows you to describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot your business model.
- Lean Canvas(For Startups): The Lean Canvas is a version of the Business Model Canvas adapted by Ash Maurya specifically for startups.
- Design Thinking: Design thinking is a formal method for practical, creative resolution of problems and the creation of solutions. It can be used in many different projects. See: IDEO, Google, and Graphic Design.
- TRIZ: TRIZ is a systematic method for solving problems. It can be applied in many fields but is particularly useful in engineering and product design.
Innovation is a journey, not a destination. Using innovative strategies in your business startup and for constantly improving your ongoing small business is an important component of success.
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