Small businesses represent probably the most important source of business innovation in the world. However, searching for innovative ideas can be difficult, expensive, and sometimes ineffective. Here are a few ideas that might just give you that much needed push in the right way:
1. Instead of copying everyone else in the industry, focus on what they are not doing. Identify what’s missing from the picture. Is any category of customers left out? Are there any products that should be on the market but don’t seem to be?
2. Resistance to change is natural. Especially when you’re a business owner, you’re aware that change can literally take you out of business. However, you will soon realize that embracing change and planning the transition properly will bring you success. Create a culture in which change and innovation come natural. Empower your employees – one idea is to allow them, for a few days each month, to focus on a project of their choice, something they feel can be improved. The result is a win-win situation: the employee feels valued and feels that he can make a change, that he is allowed freedom, while the company has a valuable solution to a problem it might not have even been aware existed.
3. Involving the customers is a very efficient strategy to identify problems and create innovation. Customers know what they love, and they know what can be improved. They also have a pretty good idea regarding how they’d like to see the problem solved. Most of the times, you will find that if you ask them nicely, they will be more than happy to answer. Because they too wish to feel that their opinion is valued.
4. Brainstorm a list of services that you think you can offer to your clients, for free or for a charge. Bonus points for those services that have little to do with your company’s activities.
5. Get people to try their hand at working in a different department for a determined period. You never know – you might discover they have real talent for that job, plus they might help by providing a fresh perspective. On their end, it’s a great opportunity for personal and, why not, professional development.