Almost all modern companies have embraced innovation as the go-to process of creating something new that will have a significant impact on the world. When done properly and thoroughly, innovation involves bringing brand-new ideas to the market and/or developing more effective versions of existing products or services. Here are 10 strategies you can use to innovate your business today.
Today’s consumers demand a superior customer experience. As a result, businesses are constantly looking for new ways to stand out and meet these high expectations. From developing new products to streamlining processes and services, entrepreneurs must continually invent new ways to remain relevant and profitable.
Almost all modern companies have embraced innovation as the go-to process of creating something new that will have a significant impact on the world. When done properly and thoroughly, innovation will involve bringing brand-new ideas to the market and/or developing more effective versions of existing products or services. There are many opportunities for entrepreneurs to innovate their businesses in order to stay competitive and drive growth. Here are 10 strategies you can use to innovate your business today.
Having a Startup Mindset
Before you can innovate, you need to have a startup mindset — a fierce drive to succeed and the unwavering confidence that you can achieve great things. A startup mindset is important because it keeps you focused on the process of innovation. It pushes you to think creatively about finding new ways to grow your company, even when resources are limited. It helps you see opportunities for innovation that others might miss. It also keeps you from getting too comfortable with your current approach. This doesn’t mean you should bring a “move fast and break things” mentality to your business — but it does mean you should be willing to take calculated risks. You should always be thinking about new ways you can make your company better.
Embracing a Transformation Culture
While many companies focus on the next big product launch, others are laser-focused on transforming their organizations to become more customer-centric. Successful businesses know that innovation goes beyond creating products — it’s also about transforming the way those products are delivered to customers. It’s about creating an environment where employees can be creative and flourish, regardless of their role. It’s about creating a transformation culture that focuses on creating and sustaining real change. A transformation culture is focused on creating a customer-centric culture. It focuses on improving the customer experience and increasing customer loyalty. It may involve creating new processes and systems, or it may require recognizing and removing barriers to success. When selecting tools, solutions, and strategies for your company, you should ask yourself if they will help you deliver on this promise or if they are just a distraction.
Change or Discontinue Unprofitable Products and Services
Innovation doesn’t just involve creating new products — it also involves determining which current products and services are worth keeping and which ones aren’t. In order to stay profitable, businesses must regularly review their offerings and decide which items are worth keeping and which should be discontinued or replaced. There may be items that are worth upgrading to stay competitive. There may be items that are no longer relevant or worth the cost to produce and distribute. In order to innovate, you may need to alter your products and services to meet new customer needs or market conditions. If you have a product or service that isn’t bringing in sufficient revenue, you may want to discontinue or replace it with something that is more profitable. This may involve making changes to the product or the way it is marketed, or it may involve ending the service completely.
Leverage Existing Technologies
If you want to innovate, you can’t ignore the technologies that already exist. One of the easiest ways to innovate is to explore existing technologies that can be applied to your business. For example, if you’re in the retail space, you may want to explore ways to leverage augmented reality to enhance your customer experience. You can also use emerging technologies to improve internal processes and increase productivity. You don’t have to invent a brand-new technology to innovate — you just have to recognize how existing technologies can be applied to your company. This can be a great way to reduce costs, improve your customer experience and increase revenue.
Empower Self-Organizing Teams
Modern businesses are embracing self-organizing teams. Instead of operating with a top-down management approach, many businesses are allowing their employees to make more decisions and take ownership over their work. This has many benefits, including increased employee engagement, better collaboration and a faster path to innovation. Empowering self-organizing teams requires businesses to create an environment where people feel safe taking risks, making mistakes and admitting when they don’t know something. Employees also need clear goals and expectations for their work. If you want to promote innovation, you should create an environment where employees feel empowered to take risks and experiment with new ideas. You can do this by providing clear goals and expectations, as well as giving employees opportunities to collaborate and discuss new ideas.
Develop New Skills Across Your Workforce
New skills and abilities are essential to any business seeking to innovate. The employees with the most potential to grow and innovate are those who are constantly learning new skills. When your employees have new skills, they can identify new ways to solve problems and improve processes. They can also invent new ways to delight customers and meet their needs. You can encourage your workforce to develop new skills by offering training courses and opportunities to attend conferences, seminars and events. You can also emphasize the importance of continuous learning within your organization, and recognize employees who are seeking out new ways to grow.
Incorporating Market Feedback
As your business grows, you will likely receive feedback from customers and prospective buyers. They will have suggestions for how your company can improve, as well as specific features that they would like to see implemented. This feedback can be incredibly valuable — especially if you take the time to consider it and incorporate it into your plans for the future. When you receive market feedback, you should be mindful of the source. Is this person an ideal customer for your company? How do you know? For example, if you receive feedback from someone on social media about how much they love your product, it is important to recognize that this person isn’t necessarily an ideal customer.
Try Out New Marketing Strategies
As you develop new products and services, you will want to find ways to drive more customers and sales. One way to do this is to try out new marketing strategies. You want to approach marketing strategically, but you don’t want to fall into the trap of doing things the way they’ve always been done. When you try out new marketing strategies, you will likely discover a few that work well, as well as some that don’t work at all. You will also likely find that some strategies work well for certain products or services but don’t work for others. When testing new marketing strategies, be sure to track the results. This will help you identify which strategies are worth continuing to use and those that don’t deserve your time and energy.
Test and Refine Your Marketing Strategies
Once you’ve identified a few marketing strategies that work well for your company, you should test them to see if they are truly effective. This means getting a baseline of data to determine how much your marketing efforts are helping your business. You should track things like the number of leads generated, the number of sales made, the average selling price, the average amount of time it takes a customer to make a purchase and the total revenue generated. After you have some data, you should refine your marketing strategies. This could involve adjusting the timing, frequency and type of communication. It could also involve making small changes to the types of offers you make and how you present them to customers. By testing and refining your marketing strategies, you can make sure that they are truly working and aren’t taking up too much of your time and resources.
Operationalizing the Scaling of the Business
As your business grows, you will need to figure out ways to scale the organization. This will involve more than just adding employees — it will also involve figuring out how to streamline processes, implement new technologies and optimize the way the business is run. What does scaling your business look like? It depends on your business model. Some companies — especially those that are B2B — might see little to no growth in the number of customers served over time. Other companies — especially B2C companies — may see a dramatic increase in customers served over time.
Lang Richardson is the Executive Director of Innovation at Divergence, the Design Advisory & Consulting division at Marlabs. He helps teams think about how to develop practices, mindsets and repeatable processes for innovation.