How to Be Innovative in BusinessIn a world where anyone can start their own business easily, innovation is what will make you stand out. March 25, 2019
Innovation. It’s more than just a word. It’s a process that for the past one hundred years has changed our world in a drastic manner. Innovation is what sets small businesses apart from the world-changing companies that influence our lives on a daily basis.
When businesses innovate your get your smartphone (that you’re probably reading this on), you can chat with friends and family on the other side of the world, you can hop in a car to quickly get from A to B.
And the wonderful thing about this process is that it can be applied on any level, at any size, by anyone. You don’t have to be the next Nikola Tesla, or Elon Musk in order to innovate.
You do, however, need to understand where good ideas come from, why innovation important for the business and why yours can fail. Let’s dive deeper into this fascinating topic!
Table of Contents
- The Importance of Innovation in Business
- Where Good Ideas Come From
- Why Innovative Ideas Fail
- How to be Innovative
- Ideas for Innovation in the Workplace
- How to Develop Innovative Business Ideas
- Where to Share and Sell Innovative Ideas
- Where to Find Innovative Businesses
“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.”
– Dean Kamen
Innovation is the next step. It’s the jump from landline phones to the internet. Innovation is space travel. And failing to understand the importance of innovation in business is what can bring down any company, no matter how big it is.
Let’s look at Blockbuster. A behemoth in the DVD and video game renting industry, but they’re gone now. The company failed to think with the future in mind. But Netflix did and it’s where most likely you’re binging your favourite shows.
The problem with Blockbuster was that they defined themselves with what they did and not the benefits they provided. Blockbuster rented movies and video games from their physical stores but renting a movie shifted from going to the store to browsing online at the comfort of your living room.
Netflix innovated. They brought this experience to your living room. Netflix created the next step.
The quote at the beginning of this paragraph defines very clearly what innovation is. It’s solving an old problem with new technology. And thinking innovatively can help your business or the company you’re working for creating a new product or improve an existing one, improve the workflow of your colleagues, or simply find a new way to schedule meetings between a lot of people.
This, in turn, saves money, time and, in some instances – workforce.
It’s cheaper to run an online company like Netflix rather than operating 9,094 stores and employing more than 80,000 people like Blockbuster. Just FYI, Netflix has 5,400 employees.
Innovative ideas matter for businesses because that’s what helps them stay on the curve, always ready to improve and create new products and services. From creating reusable rockets to finding a way to schedule a meeting between 50 people, it’s all because someone had an idea and created the solution. They innovated.
Where Good Ideas Come From
For some, good ideas may make us scream “Eureka!” while we’re in the bathtub, for others maybe meditation is the answer. There is one thing that is sure, however – good ideas rarely come from repetitive tasks and comfort zones.
Working in an office? Leave your phone and walk outside for 15 minutes. Just let your mind wander. When was the last time you did that?
Let’s take a look at a couple of tactics we use to generate innovative ideas here at Fantastic Services.
No, we’re not talking about the marketer’s “Why?”, what we mean is to push curiosity in your meetings and your daily life beyond what you’re accustomed to. Ask yourself “Why?” for everything that triggers your curiosity. Search for answers and solutions to the problems you encounter.
By constantly staying curious you’ll open your mind to new ideas and you’ll see problems from a different perspective allowing you to tackle them in a different way.
Good ideas come from curious minds that ask questions. Unfortunately, our busy lifestyles seem to keep us from asking those questions.
Create an innovative environment around you
The five people you surround yourselves with will define how creative you are. Mark that.
Creativity rarely happens when you’re alone in a room. In order to be innovative, you need to bounce ideas with colleagues and friends.
Pixar’s headquarters was designed and built in a way that encourages colleagues to talk to each other. And if Steve Jobs wanted his employees to mingle during work hours, then why you don’t use this method.
A secret to Jobs’ method is that he wanted the different departments to communicate, so try talking with people from other sections of the organisation. You may hear some great ideas or solutions you didn’t come up with to your problems.
Change-up the environment
This is mostly for you office workers out there, especially the ones working in more creative fields. Change your environment frequently.
From placing new pictures on the walls to introducing a new plant on your desk – change is vital to keep your mind fresh. If you can get out and work out of the office – great, do that!
Place yourself in the shoes of your clients
It doesn’t matter if you’re working as a marketer or as a gardener – being empathetic enough to place yourself in the shoes of your customers will help you improve the quality of your work or product tenfold.
For innovation to occur it’s important to lead with the customer first in mind. Sometimes being innovative won’t be cost effective at the beginning, but it’s about thinking with the future in mind.
Why Innovative Ideas Fail
There’s this one TED talk where Guy Kawasaki talks about the art of innovation. It has a really good representation of how innovative products positions on the market.
It’s a pretty simple idea – uniqueness vs value. Ideally, you’d want your innovative product to be in the upper right corner of the chart. Meaning – you provide value to your customers with a unique and innovative product that no one else in the market offers.
The lower right corner provides value, but there’s nothing unique to that product. A lot of companies offer it and in order to be competitive, you will have to compete on price.
The upper left corner is where very unique products exist, but they provide no value to the customer – so they’re not making any money.
And, you don’t even want to be in the lower left corner – no value, no uniqueness.
So, innovative products fail because they won’t provide enough value to the customer which will inevitably lead to fewer sales and failure of your innovative idea.
In order to create a successful innovative product you have to strike for the upper right corner – great product, lots of functionality and uniqueness.
How to be Innovative
How do I think more innovatively? Why some people are more creative than others? How can I cultivate my innovative traits?
All questions that if you knew the answer to it’ll be so much easier. Truth be told all of us have innovative and creative traits, some just aren’t accustomed to using them.
Our backgrounds play a huge role in how we think, how creative we are and if we’re innovative thinkers.
The good thing is – thinking innovatively is a tangible trait. Yeah, you’ll have to work to develop it, but it’s in you.
Let’s examine a couple of ways you can train your brain to think more creatively!
Let your mind wander
We live in an era where information is in abundance. While we’ve mostly adapted to the huge amount of data we’re bombarded on a daily and hourly basis, it’s easy to let the noise take over.
Block a 15-minute window each day to let your mind wander. Go outside, leave your phone in the office. Live in the moment for a second. Let your mind unload all of the stress by wondering. Observe your surroundings.
It’s an easy task, but letting your brain rest can help you with staying creative.
Learn about everything
In order to come up with an innovative idea, you’ll need a broad understanding of a lot of different topics.
Try to learn as much as possible. Start with things that interest you and go down the rabbit hole from there. You’ll be surprised to find new and interesting things that will give you a unique outlook to problems and equally unique solutions.
You may fail. Your idea may fail. And that’s okay. Don’t think you have to be fearless in order to be innovative.
Accept fear and unleash your creativity. It’s a vital part of the process.
Ideas for Innovation in the Workplace
Instilling innovation-driven thinking in your company takes time, and it should be more of a strategy rather than something you try to do.
This is a very broad topic of which we’ll only scratch the surface of creating a company culture that keeps your employees innovative and creative during the work process.
Failure is okay, especially for an innovative company. It’s simply a part of the process.
Instead of making your employees afraid that they’ll get disciplined when they fail, encourage them to try and fail. Nothing great happened in a day. Everything takes time, trial, error and repeating before you get to the finished product (or before you disregard the project whatsoever because this happens as well!).
Limit resources (from time to time)
Can you imagine that limiting resources can help with becoming more creative? Well, if you want to truly make your employees creative limit what they can work with.
Frequently creating challenges with limited resources will make your employees come up with innovative solutions to old problems.
Exactly these limits and constraints can make you stand out in your niche, as you’re thinking outside of the box.
Change the way you look at obstacles
Every great leader leads by example, and so should you. Changing the way you tackle challenges will change the way your team looks at them as well.
A golden rule we always follow is to change the “I can’t.” with “I can if…”. By asking yourself “Can I if…?” you’re opening your mind, and those of the people you’re working with to answers.
How to Develop Innovative Business Ideas
Innovation in business is about creating something that adds value. Creating, because you can have all the creativity in the world and come up with a thousand ideas, but true innovation only occurs when you go and execute on that idea.
Embrace change and spend some time thinking about your ideas. Look at them at different angles, create brainstorming sessions and try to discuss ideas with a diverse team as possible. Once you feel you have something of substance go and work on it.
P.S. You’ll rarely feel like you’re 100% ready!
Alright! Now we’re talking business. Once you’ve got your breaktrough idea it’s time for you to:
a) Share it with the world and see ask for some feedback;
b) Find a way for you to fund the production of that idea.
Where can you share your innovative idea
If you’re apart of an organisation the first people that would come to mind are your colleagues. And it’s a good choice! However, we’d also advise you to seek approval to be shared with clients as well.
Customers have a unique outlook on products, and their feedback is invaluable. You can use simple tools like Google Forms or newsletters to ask for their feedback.
Fund your innovative idea
Kickstarter, GoFundMe, IndieGoGo and Rocket Starter are just a few websites where people love investing their money for your innovative ideas.
The Pebble and Pebble 2 are two of Kickstarter’s most funded projects, with the first one reaching more than $20,000,0000 in funding!
For a more in-depth look on where you can find capital for your innovative business idea check our guide.
Where to Find Innovative Businesses
When you’re searching for an innovative company trying to look for signs such as how they compare to their competitors.
We can take us for example. What makes Fantastic Services stand out from other home service providers on the market is that we provide a full pack of handymen, gardeners, cleaners, removalists and pest controllers.
On top of that, we’re using the latest software to calculate the service providers closest to your address, so we save gas and help with preserving the planet.
Sounds good? Take a look at our franchise and master franchise opportunities or get in touch with us!
About the Authors
Created by Gratsiela Borisova, project manager of the Fantastic Services franchise sites in Australia and the UK, and Evgeni Asenov, blog strategist for Fantastic Services Australia. Both of them produce business-related content and share the ins and outs of starting and running a business in Australia.