Are you an innovator? Your answer could indicate whether your business will be a smashing success, or a smashing failure.
Innovators know how to respond to a changing business market. At every turn, they’re prepared for new technology, new marketing techniques, new networking opportunities, and anything else that may arise. They put themselves in line to get more leads, more customers, and make more money. They know how to hire good employees who can bring even more innovation to the table.
Non-innovators, on the other hand, may lag behind when their competitors start pulling ahead. It might be as simple as ineffective operation, but that could lead to losing customers to competitors, or even losing staff to them.
What exactly is innovation in business, though? It might mean coming up with a new product or service that your competitors don’t offer. It might involve developing a new technique or tool to get the job done. It might simply be about learning how to work more efficiently, market more effectively, or increase your profits. At its heart, innovation requires being open-minded, willing to see new ways of doing things, and putting yourself out there so that customers see what sets you apart from other companies.
If you’re running a small service business, you might find innovation particularly difficult. The website EY.com surveyed a group of small entrepreneurial businesses and larger corporate ones, and found that about half of the entrepreneurs had a hard time integrating innovation into their business plan. Nearly three-quarters of the larger corporations, on the other hand, said innovation was a big part of their strategic goals.
Why is it hard for some companies to innovate? Well, it’s a risk. In a shaky economy, it might seem to make more sense, to you and to your customers, to stick with tried-and-true business tactics. If you were hard hit by the recession, you may be worried about further losses. But the truth is, if you’re not willing to take the risk on innovation, your company is not going to grow. You will eventually lag behind those competitors who are willing to take chances. Taking the risk, on the other hand, can be a game changer.
So how do you improve innovation within your company and increase your velocity? First of all, you have to be willing to ask questions. Take a hard look at your business practices and values and don’t be afraid to reevaluate them. Get your employees involved, on an individual level and as a team. Challenge everyone to come up with new ideas. Try to figure out why something is standard practice, and if it’s time to change that practice.
Externally, you can work to get to know your customers. Figure out what they need from you, and how you can find new ways to meet those needs. Involve your employees here as well; make sure they’re getting to know customers they come in contact with, and let them come up with ideas for how to improve customer service.
Once you have some ideas for innovation, be sure you implement them. Innovation won’t do you a bit of good if you’re not putting it into practice. If you’ve got an idea for a new tool or product to make it easier to get the job done, come up with a prototype. Implement a plan to streamline services or make work more efficient, and make sure everyone understands it. Figure out your unique selling proposition and make sure it’s prominent on your website and other marketing materials. What sets your company apart from competitors? Evaluate your pricing on services and see if they need any adjustment based on that unique selling proposition. You’ll find that many customers are probably willing to pay a bit more for something no one else offers.
Remember, for innovation to be effective, you have to keep it up. Make it a part of your company’s strategic plan. Set aside times to evaluate company practices and look for new ways to innovate. Keep it up, and your customers will notice.
The right innovations can help your business grow exponentially, but that’s not the only key to unlocking the secrets of business mastery. Contact ServiceKey today to find out more.
Mike Agugliaro, “Business Ninja”
Founder of the $23 Million Dollar Service Blueprint and Service Warrior Business Mastermind