Browsing Posts tagged business innovations

There’s a common misconception that innovation is just for large companies.  However, identifying and developing creative ideas can benefit companies of all sizes – including small businesses that are just getting started.  Don’t wait until your business grows to a particular size to begin developing an innovation strategy – you may miss some great opportunities.

You don’t need a Research & Development Department or an Engineering Staff to take advantage of creative thinking in your business.  In fact, many small businesses can bring creative ideas to market faster than large corporations because of their smaller size.  Take advantage of the flexibility available to small companies and start the innovation process today.

Here’s all you need to start leveraging innovative ideas:

  1. At least one person willing to spend some time doing “creative thinking”.
  2. At least one “seed” idea.  This “seed” can be a problem or unmet need in your industry or in your own business.  Creative thinking exercises can start with seed ideas to develop potential solutions to these problems or unmet needs.
  3. A way to record the creative ideas (paper/pencil, computer, audio recorder or a white board) – even a napkin and a crayon works (I’ve done this myself several times in restaurants).  If you use a white board, be sure to take a picture of the board before it’s erased or record the ideas using paper or a computer.
  4. A system to evaluate creative ideas.  I have found that a small group of 4-6 people works well for evaluating creative ideas and refining those ideas into products or services that can be implemented in a business.

This is all you need to get started.  You can add more steps and activities as your innovation strategy develops – but keep things simple in the beginning.

A question I am frequently asked is “How do I create innovations in my business?”  To address this common question, I created the acronym IDEA, which describes a system for leveraging innovation in your business.  The first letter “I” represents “Identify All Innovations“.

The first step in leveraging innovation is to begin identifying creative ideas that can be developed into useful innovations.  If you don’t capture these creative ideas, there’s nothing to build upon.  Think of creative ideas as the “seeds” that, with proper attention and care, can grow into valuable business innovations.

Innovative ideas are often generated from problem solving exercises, brainstorming sessions and other activities.  These ideas must be captured and recorded for future evaluation or further brainstorming sessions.  Many businesses use these  ideas as “seeds” for future discussions.  For example, the initial idea may be a broad concept that needs to be refined into a product or service appropriate for the business.  Additional brainstorming on the broad idea may produce multiple approaches to implement the idea, thus “growing an innovation” from the idea seed.

Start finding those creative ideas today to begin identifying innovations that will grow your business.

When people discuss “innovators” in your industry, do they mention your company?  If not, you can start taking steps today to establish your business as an innovator and begin attracting loyal customers and fans.

What companies do you believe are leaders and innovators in their market?  Do you follow these companies in anticipation of their next product or service announcement?  This type of position in any industry can generate lots of attention: customers talk about your company online and with friends, and publications write about your company and its products. This attention strengthens your competitive position in the marketplace.

If you are not yet seen as an innovator in your industry, you can change this perception. As your business develops innovations and introduces them to the market, the business will position itself as a source of creative ideas. People will take notice and begin following your activities and announcements.

You can leverage your business’ innovative activities through advertising, social media and other announcements to show customers (and potential customers) that your business is a leader.  Start identifying innovations today by looking for new products or new features that satisfy unmet needs in your industry.

Share your innovation success stories in the comment section below.

Many businesses are looking for new ways to generate income in today’s difficult economy.

New business innovation is one way to increase revenue by developing new products or enhancing existing products to increase sales.  In today’s economy, people are still buying products and services, but often purchasing things they already have.  For example, people are still buying televisions, cellular phones and video game systems.  But, today, many people are less likely to buy a new type of product they have never purchased.

Keeping this in mind, when developing innovation in your business consider adding new features to your existing products that make the product faster, cheaper or more useful.  Assuming people are already buying your type of product, you can create a competitive edge if your product provides new features or a better value to the consumer.

If you are going to create a new product, be sure that the market for that type of product is already established.  In other words, make sure that people are already buying that type of product.

In today’s economy, trying to create a new product category can be difficult and expensive.  There are many ways to apply innovation for business that do not require “teaching” people that they need a new type of product.

Start applying the innovation process in your business to find ways to make your current products or services stand out in the marketplace – and watch your business grow.

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