To leverage innovations that grow your business, you need to implement a plan that continually encourages innovation throughout your company. Teaching everyone in your organization about creativity and innovation helps develop an innovation culture that produces a constant flow of creative ideas.

You can start building an innovation culture in your business by:

  1. Teaching everyone in your business about the innovation process and encourage them to submit creative ideas. Don’t limit creative activities to a particular department or group of individuals. I have seen valuable innovations developed by people with different backgrounds, experience, and roles within a company.
  2. Giving examples of innovations (in your own company or other companies) that have provided a boost to the company by increasing revenue, reducing expenses or streamlining business procedures. Show that relatively simple innovations can have a significant impact on the business.
  3. Celebrating and rewarding innovation in your business.  Provide an innovation framework that includes innovation contests, brainstorming events and an innovation reward program.

Start creating a culture of innovation in your business today by educating everyone in your business about the innovation process and how it can benefit the business.  Please share your comments below and tell us about the innovation culture in your business.

I’ve read many articles about small businesses using new techniques to attract new clients or customers.  Some of these techniques are relatively simple, but produce a significant boost to the business.  A simple innovation in your business can help distinguish your products and services from those of your competitors.

Here’s an example of a local restaurant in my town that’s offering a new service to expand its sales.  The restaurant is a family-style restaurant that, until recently, did not offer continue reading…

I’m sure your initial reaction to the question “Is Blogging Innovative?” may be “No, blogging has been around forever.”  However, I believe the answer varies depending on the industry.

Although many businesses and industries with a strong online presence have been using blogs for many years to provide information and interact with their clients and customers.  But, businesses in many industries are not actively using blogs.

For example, Bentley Tolk recently explained that blogging is still considered “cutting edge” for many law firms and lawyers.  Bentley teaches law firm marketing via Social Media and New Media.  He discussed the topic of blogging for lawyers in an episode of his podcast.  (Listen here:  http://legalmarketinglive.com/why-lawyers-should-blog-legal-marketing-live-004)

So, the answer to whether blogging is still innovative:  Yes.  If you are one of the first to use blogging in your market, you are an innovator in your industry.  A great way to innovate your business is to apply successful practices (such as blogging) in other industries to your own company.

Even if others are already blogging in your market, look at successful blogging practices by other companies (in any market) and apply similar practices to your own blog.  There’s always room for innovation.

I’m often asked the question “How does innovation ‘fit’ in my company?”  Many people believe innovations are limited to technology-based companies or restricted to large corporations with research departments.  But, I have seen countless innovations in all types of businesses in a variety of industries.  Many valuable innovations have been developed in “non-technology” companies.

For any business I’m helping to develop an innovation strategy, I point out the following three ways to innovate a business.  There are other categories of innovation, but these three provide a great start and give all businesses lots of ideas to work with.

  1. Create Something New – Think about new products or services that can expand your existing business, or allow you to grow into a new market.  Consider unmet needs in your market, customer suggestions and continue reading…

Developing an innovation strategy in your business provides a variety of benefits.  As your business grows and becomes known as an innovator in the marketplace, many people will notice.  News articles and word-of-mouth advertising builds your reputation as an innovative company, which attracts new customers as well as potential employees and contractors.

Many people want to work in a creative and innovative environment. These people perceive less innovative companies as “boring” or “old fashioned”.  When you position yourself as an innovative company, employees and contractors will seek positions with your company.  This puts you in a strong position by attracting a large group of potential employees and contractors when your company has an open position.

I have known many top employees who were considering several new job opportunities. In addition to the actual job responsibilities, these people looked very closely at the company’s culture, which included the innovation culture and the creative environment.  In this situation, innovative companies had the edge in hiring these top candidates.

Consider taking steps to position your business as an innovator and begin experiencing the benefits of your innovative activities.

Innovation is commonly defined as “the introduction of something new” or “a new way of doing something”.  Many successful innovations improve on an existing product to make it faster, cheaper, or more efficient.  Other valuable innovations apply procedures and systems from one industry to another.

For example, Henry Ford is not credited with inventing the car nor did he invent the assembly line.  His innovation was to change the way cars were built by applying a moving assembly line (already in use in a different industry) to the automobile manufacturing process.  Thus, Ford’s innovation was the combination of an existing product (cars) with an existing procedure (the assembly line).  The moving assembly line developed by Henry Ford allowed individual workers to perform specific tasks while the vehicles moved along the assembly line, which greatly improved efficiency.  The moving assembly line reduced the time required to build each car, increased vehicle production levels and reduced the cost to manufacture each car.  Ford’s innovation of bringing the moving assembly line to the automotive industry allowed the company to sell more vehicles at a significantly lower cost, which distinguished it from other companies in the market that used less efficient manufacturing techniques.

Today’s Action Step:  Spend some time brainstorming about ways to innovate your business’ products or procedures.  Is there a particular unmet need in your market that your company can fill?  Are there procedures in other industries that can be adapted to your business to improve operations?  Write down your answers!

Here’s an example of a situation where someone found a solution to a problem.  However, they forgot to consider the new problems caused by their solution!

Many cities are installing new traffic signals (or modifying existing signals) to use low-energy light bulbs, which results in savings on energy costs.  However, in cold climates these energy-efficient light bulbs have a problem.  Some cities like Green Bay, Chicago and Minneapolis are having difficulties when continue reading…

I regularly use case studies to teach my clients about innovation.  Case studies show a particular example of a business innovation, but can be generalized to apply to many businesses in a variety of markets.  The following case study describes an innovation developed at one of my clients.

A law firm regularly filed documents with a government agency by first class mail.  Each mailing would include a postcard addressed to the law firm that was date-stamped by the government agency and returned to the law firm.  The postcard acted as a receipt that the documents were received by the agency.

The law firm had an internal procedure that required each postcard to be stored in a physical file containing the documents mailed to the government agency.  These physical files were also used regularly by attorneys and support staff in the law firm.  Administrative employees spent a significant amount of continue reading…

Many innovations solve problems or simply make life easier.  Here’s a wonderful example of using innovation to solve a current problem.

Problem:  Kids with Diabetes need to monitor their blood sugar level throughout the day.  This involves an uncomfortable finger prick each time their blood sugar level is tested.  Kids may attempt to avoid this daily testing, which may jeopardize their health.

Solution:  Combine the blood sugar testing procedure with something kids enjoy … continue reading…

I’ve met many business leaders and entrepreneurs that don’t understand how to leverage innovation in small businesses.  These individuals often believe that business innovation is for large companies that employ scientists and have a large research and development department.  However, many small businesses can enjoy significant benefits from a well-designed innovation strategy.

In some cases, small businesses can do a better job at identifying and implementing innovations than a larger company.  These smaller companies can often act quickly to take advantage of creative ideas and get those ideas into the market by incorporating them into the company’s product or service.  This quick action gives the smaller company a competitive edge when they are continue reading…

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