We live in a world where innovation is no longer an option. In fact, it’s the only way for businesses to survive in this day and age. More people, including millennials, professionals and employees, are starting their own businesses to improve their lives. As a result, competition will be more fierce than ever.
Innovation is important in helping businesses thrive, and stay one step ahead of the competition. It makes businesses stand out and gain a decisive advantage in the market.
Dealing with Hindrances to Innovation
Trying out something new is like throwing a wager on a business idea. It may or may not work. Mistakes are inevitable; but on the one hand, it can also be a game changer. It happened to many successful businesses who were not afraid to take some risks in exchange for a much bigger payout.
People who are too cautious are not eager to innovate. They take the same old route and go through the motions. One of the keys to innovation is to embrace the fact that you might not be able to get it right 100% of the time.
Companies who stop innovating will – slowly but surely – lose ground to their competitors. Ignoring the competition is fatal to any business, no matter how big it is. Some known industry leaders of the past have now been left behind by much younger companies whose innovations captured the hearts and minds of a much greater audience (think Amazon).
Different Views about Innovation
There are different views to innovation, particularly as something which is distinct from invention. Innovation focuses on improving an already existing technology, while invention aims at creating an entirely new technology that supersedes an old one. Smartphones, Android and IOS devices are the 21st century innovations of the mobile phone, while automobiles are inventions that replaced horse-drawn vehicles.
Innovations can reach a point of stagnation, where each innovation is just an iteration of the previous one – just slightly better. Portable transistor radios reached its peak in Sony’s Walkman. However, when the first MP3 player (MPMan) came out in 1998, further improvements to the portable cassette player was rather pointless.
Somewhere down the roard, small business will have to choose one over the other, i.e. improving on what they’re already good at or come up with a new business idea. Samsung started out as a small convenience store that sells merchandise. Today, it is one of the biggest industry leaders in manufacturing, consumer electronics, communications, home appliances, heavy equipment, as well as research and development.
Keys to Successful Innovations
Prepare to make the necessary change. Every so often, we need to implement some changes on how we conduct our businesses as well as the type of products and services we give to our customers. Change keeps our businesses from stagnation, moves the company forward, not to mention helps us stay ahead of the competition.
Identify problems and create solutions. Some innovation could run off-course if we’re just trying to make arbitrary changes within the system or create products and services which don’t address a need or solve a particular problem. Customers always think of our products and services in terms of value, like how they will improve people’s lives or what will be the advantages of using them.
Choose a selling point for your business. There are plenty of ways you can improve on your business depending on which customer preference you want to emphasize – also known as your unique selling proposition. Do you want to be more appealing to low budget customers, or do you want sell to high-end clients? Is customer service and customer experience more important to you than anything else? Whatever it is, it should give you a distinct advantage over your competitors.
Listen to your customers. Customer surveys and are some of the time-tested methods to stay relevant with customers. CRMs and sales and marketing automation works great in maintaining customer relationships through customer feedback, customer database, customer acquisition, sales funnel, and auto-responders.
Learn from your mistakes. Innovation has opened the door for new opportunities and important lessons on how to run a successful business. Today’s leading industries and business has had many failed attempts before getting it right. But innovate, they must. Fortune favours the brave. The only way for your business to stand out and cut through the noise is to make a difference.
Be Flexible. Small business owners must be open for opportunities and step out of their comfort zones. It’s one of the biggest challenges in business because as humans, we tend to avoid risk and be comfortable with what we’re already used to. Be willing to try and even fail. It can be scary at first, but it’s important to keep the end goal in sight.
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