Ready for change? Even doing things a little differently can transform your business. Here are some straightforward ways to build innovation by making small tweaks to your business:
Think about the work you do every day
Ask yourself where can you make improvements. Can you market your product more effectively? Can you streamline your processes to work more efficiently? Bundle similar tasks and do them at the same time. For example, clean out your email inbox every Friday – so you can start the new week with a clean slate. Or, save all your accounting tasks until the end of the month – to minimize the time you spend with invoices and spreadsheets.
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Inspiration for innovation
When’s the last time you thought critically about the way you sell your product? Your best source of inspiration might be your competition: you need to market your product in a way that stands out from the crowd. Look at different industries for inspiration. Are there ideas or products out there which are related to what you sell? You could also form a partnership. This isn’t just for the big guns: any size business can make strategic alliances that will increase exposure and profits. And even if your business is just getting started, always think big. Innovation to scale will be crucial, and putting processes in place early will make future growth painless.
Involve your employees and stakeholders
The people you work most closely with often have the most insightful thoughts on how to improve your business. Your employees, for example, will likely have ideas for how to simplify the work that they do – ask them to share! And as a solo entrepreneur, you still have service providers and other business contacts. Leverage them for insights into your industry and your customers. Don’t forget to reach out to your suppliers about streamlining your orders: save some time (and money!) by getting shipments monthly instead of bi-weekly.
Customer insights are key
Look carefully at the comments and complaints you receive. Do any common themes stand out? When they are precisely targeted, small changes can bring big rewards. Simple online survey tools and social media give you a way to get even more information from your customers, so don’t miss out on a chance to make the improvements your customers are looking for. As your business grows, hold focus groups or meetings with key customers or prospects to discuss possible products or services you might offer, and how customers would benefit from them.
Keep up with trends
Are you looking for more reasons to communicate with your customers? Try asking them what they’re looking for! You can also attend meetings, conferences and tradeshows to stay on top of emerging ideas and opportunities – especially in markets you may not have tapped into yet.
Building innovation in your business isn’t about finding a single magic bullet. It’s about making constant adjustments and always looking for the better option that will improve the way you do business. Remember, any innovation should bring measurable changes: increased sales, growth in a new market, or improved customer service.
Businesses today face more competition than ever before. When you stand still, you miss out on opportunities for growth. In a world where customers are always looking for the next new product or idea, failing to innovate means that you’re putting your business at risk.