Innovation Drives Business

Innovation on chalk board

Not only is innovation a buzz word, but it can also be seen as scary. It conjures up images of technology, disruption, and complexity. The dictionary defines innovation as: 1. A new idea, method, or device 2. the introduction of something new.

Not quite as scary as it sounds, right? Innovation doesn’t have to be a breakthrough in technology or a new business model; it can be as simple as looking at pain points in your business and finding new ways to address them or identifying a new opportunity.

You may be asking yourself – how the heck can I be ‘innovating’ when I don’t have enough time in the day as it is??? The day-to-day tasks and operations of running a business take up a lot of time, and setting aside hours to address pain points may seem difficult to do, but by taking time out to work on your business, not just in your business, it helps to provide a clearer understanding of the pain points and or opportunities to:

  • Improve productivity.
  • Reduce costs.
  • Increase competitiveness.
  • Improve brand recognition and value.
  • Create new partnerships and relationships.
  • Improve profitability.

So where do you start with your business? Harvard Business School recommends these steps:

Spot opportunities for innovation. As you think about your business, what problems needed solving?  Where do opportunities lie? Once you land on potential ideas, explore them from different angles. By doing so you may discover additional possibilities.

Prioritize opportunities. The reality is you don’t have infinite time and resources, so prioritize potential innovations based on where you think you will get the most bang for your buck. Narrow in on the 2 or 3 ideas that you think are the most worth digging into.

Build support for your innovations. Don’t be shy. Make sure the time is right and tell your story to all your stakeholders, including those whose resource backing you need and those who’ll directly benefit from your innovation.

Learn from your innovation efforts. You’ve probably heard the mantra “fail fast, learn fast.”  Don’t overthink failure; the key is to learn from it and apply those lessons to the next innovation.

Let’s put it into practical terms. Perhaps you want to drive additional traffic to your brick-and-mortar business. Are there businesses you can partner with to create a fun event or a workshop at your location? Is there an in-store only incentive you could offer? Maybe your brick-and-mortar business that offers food or drinks has a customer capacity, but you would like to increase sales. Are there ways you can increase the spend of the average customer? Hiring continues to be a challenge for many industries – are there opportunities you haven’t considered to recruit?

Would you like a sounding board to help you through the process? The Elgin Business Resource Centre is here to help guide the process, provide resources, tools, connections, and funding options.