It's never too late to innovate
Take your business to the next level by embracing an innovation mindset.
By Mike Duke, Chief Innovation Architect, Wells Fargo
As a small business owner, you have the incredible power to create an environment that fosters innovation, whether you're just starting out or have been in operation for 10 years. But when you're caught up in the daily tasks of running a business, it can be hard to separate yourself from those activities to consider new ideas and spark growth. Still, continuing to innovate is essential to the long-term success of your business.
While the process of nurturing innovation doesn't look the same for every business, keep these strategies in mind.
Capitalize on what sets your business apart
Your business has unique features — they're what keep customers coming back. Take an honest look at the products or services you provide and determine which features distinguish your business from the competition. That could mean anything from providing personable customer service to offering a bonus item with your basic service package.
Ask these questions to figure out your unique features:
What is your favorite feature of your product or service?
What are your employees' and customers' favorite features?
Why do customers refer your product or service to others?
If you can't identify a unique feature, take the time to create one. In your assessment consider changing consumer behaviors based on technology or trends. This feature, or set of features, could set the stage for your next big idea.
Look to others for inspiration
It can be tempting to rely on your own brainpower and resources for ideas. But if you look beyond the company walls, you might find you're not so far from your business's next opportunity. Start by paying attention to how other companies build their customer bases, grow their brands, and implement updates. Ask for feedback from your employees, family members, and friends. No one knows your business better than you do, but others' ideas can serve as the catalyst you need to jumpstart your company's next innovation.
Take brainstorming to the next level
As markets evolve, so do the most effective strategies, products, and services. If you've been in business for a while, it might be time to reevaluate your process and offerings. You can do this by asking questions, seeking answers, and building a plan of action:
What pressure points might shift demand or reduce price beyond your ability to compete?
What unusual market factors might compel you to push your product or service to the side?
What can you learn from your competitors?
What is the strongest aspect of your products or services? The weakest?
Who can you turn to for help and advice?
What needs to change in order to bring your company to the next level?
Ask these questions of everyone involved in your business and keep digging deeper. When someone gives you a thoughtful answer, follow it up with at least two more questions. Taking your brainstorming to the next level will allow your team to create your next big idea.
Innovation and change go hand-in-hand. Don't let the fear of losing business or upsetting employees stifle your growth. As a business owner, it's important to not only embrace change but also promote it within your business. This attitude can energize your team and open the doors to new, exciting growth opportunities.