Browsing Posts tagged steve sponseller

Welcome to my blog – Innovation Explained.  My name is Steve Sponseller, and I teach entrepreneurs and business leaders how to tap into the power of innovative ideas to grow their business.  I enjoy working with innovative companies and have more than 20 years of experience counseling companies of all sizes in a variety of different industries.  I have worked as an Electrical Engineer and an Intellectual Property attorney – I am also the founder of my own company, Innovation Strategies, Inc.  These experiences give me a unique perspective on business from both the “inside” and the “outside”.

After working with hundreds of business leaders and innovators, I have developed proven systems and techniques to identify, develop and implement innovations in any business.  These innovations can grow your company by increasing revenue, reducing expenses, providing a competitive edge, positioning the company as an “innovator” in the market, and more.  I also “practice what I preach” by applying my innovation systems and techniques in my own company.  Keep watch for my upcoming book:  Innovation Jumpstart.

The first step to creating an innovation strategy is understanding innovation and how to leverage creative ideas in your business.  This blog provides regular information related to business innovation that you can apply in your own company right away.  Get your free report “Innovation Excellence” using the sign-up box on this page (top-right corner) to start developing your own Innovation Strategy.

I created the following video using You Tube’s Search Story.

What do you think?  You can create your own Search Story (free) at http://www.youtube.com/searchstories

Writing 30 blog posts in 30 days is not as difficult as I originally thought.  Each time I wrote a blog post, I came up with at least two additional ideas for future blog posts, articles and other content.  So, I now have a long list of topics to write about!

Also, most of my 30 blog posts are finding their way into my upcoming course on developing innovation strategies to grow a business.  Writing these 30 posts kept me thinking about that course every day and I worked on its content several times each week.  I have been slowly “working” on this course for several months.  As a result of the 30 day blogging challenge,  I will be ready to launch the course in the next week or two.

Am I finished blogging now that the 30 days are over? Absolutely Not!  Now that I know how easy it is to prepare blog posts, I will be posting on a regular basis.  Probably not every day, but at least several times every week.

Unexpected Benefits:  I met some great people during this 30 day challenge – other entrepreneurs and business leaders who are passionate about their business.   I was interviewed by a fantastic person, Terrie Wurzbacher.  Thanks to her interview, I am going to start scheduling my own teleseminars on various innovation topics of interest to business leaders and entrepreneurs.

Thanks to Connie Green for offering this challenge and supporting all participants in boosting their online presence.

Please continue visiting my blog – I have plenty of new content on the way!

Have you ever considered innovating your approach to customer service?

Companies have provided phone-based customer service for several decades.  Today, most companies continue to offer this option for customers or clients wanting to communicate with the company.

With the growth of the Internet and email usage, many companies have added email customer support and/or ticket-based systems.  These systems give the customer another option by allowing customers to submit questions or customer service requests at any time, and receive responses at any time.  This approach eliminates the need for the customer to communicate “live” with the company.

A newer trend is to offer customer support via Twitter.  This communication can be almost real-time, and gives customers yet another way to interact with your company.  Companies providing support via Twitter have at least one customer service representative that monitors “tweets” that mention the Twitter user name of the business.  These tweets may be specifically directed to the company or may simply mention the company.  Either way, the customer service representative can respond to these messages quickly – often within a few minutes.

Another new option being offered by some companies is a smart phone application (such as an iPhone application) that allows a user to submit customer service requests and obtain other information about the company’s products and services.

By providing multiple options for your customers to obtain support, you allow your customer to choose the communication method that is most desirable or most practical at that time.  Your customer service representatives can typically handle customer requests from multiple sources at the same time, such as telephone, email and twitter.

By allowing your customers to choose among several options for obtaining customer service, you are being more responsive to your customer’s needs, which results in happier customers.

I’ve been helping entrepreneurs, innovators and business leaders leverage innovations for over 15 years.  With all that work in innovation, I sometimes forget to take action and implement new innovation strategies in my own business.  So, it’s time to take some innovation action!

I am participating in the “100 Articles in 100 Days” challenge by EzineArticles.  I will be preparing and publishing 100 articles – approximately one article per day for the next 100 days – starting today!  I will be writing articles about business innovation, business growth and related subjects.  I already have a list of topics for articles, but the list is not up to 100 yet!

So, I’m asking for your support.  If you have any questions about how to leverage innovation in your business, please let me know and I’ll answer those questions in my articles.  Also, if you have any general suggestions for article topics related to business and innovation, please leave a comment here, send them to me via twitter (@stevesponseller), or comment on my Facebook Fan Page (http://www.facebook.com/innovationstrategies).

I will be posting updates on my progress to this blog.  You can also read my latest articles by visiting http://www.ArticlesBySteve.com (scroll to the bottom of that page for a list of articles).

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.

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!

In my last post, I identified several road blocks to innovation.  In the information below, I discuss several ways to overcome these road blocks and use innovation in your business.

A first step to leveraging innovation in your business includes learning how to stimulate new innovation throughout your company.  This begins by teaching the importance of innovation to the business leaders in your organization.  Once they understand the business growth opportunities provided by an innovation strategy, they can share this knowledge with other employees in the company.  This approach leverages the creative thinking of people in all parts of the company and builds a valuable innovation culture.

As part of the innovation education process, show continue reading…

An Innovation Strategy provides many opportunities to reduce your company’s expenses. Properly managed innovation can streamline internal procedures, enhance the product development process, and simplify manufacturing operations, all of which can reduce business costs.

Innovating internal procedures includes managing the flow of information and documents throughout the company, and managing the handling and prioritizing of internal tasks. In some situations, innovating an internal procedure eliminates several steps or bottlenecks in the existing procedures. The streamlining of manufacturing and development procedures can accelerate the manufacturing or development time and cost, which results in a cost savings to the business.

When evaluating a business procedure, look for steps in the procedure that are not necessary, and eliminate those steps.  I have worked with several clients that were preforming internal procedures that were unnecessary.  When asked why they were performing the procedures, a common answer was continue reading…

Innovation provides many ways to increase revenue in your business. Properly managed innovation can increase sales of products or services.  An increase in sales can result from new products or services, as well as the introduction of new features for existing products or services.

Increased business revenue can result from:

  1. New customers that are attracted to the innovative products or new product features.
  2. Existing customers that purchase more of the new products or purchase the new products in addition to the products they previously purchased.
  3. Existing customers that purchase more frequently due to the new product innovations.

For example, certain individuals may not have purchased a particular type of electronic device due to perceived problems or confusion with operating the device.  However, when a version of the device with an innovative user interface is developed by a new company, these individuals purchase the product from the new company due to the ease of use.  In this example, the innovative product brings new customers into the market and increased revenue for that company.

When developing an Innovation Plan, be sure to consider opportunities to increase business revenue with both existing customers and new customers.  Also, consider how innovative products (and product features) can attract new customers who have not previously purchased products in your market.

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