What is innovation?
A somewhat ambiguous word by nature, innovation can at times be confused with invention. However, in addition to its relationship with product or prototype development, innovation is also concerned with the development of a new method, process or way of doing something that ultimately improves performance. In fact, when researched online, you’ll find countless definitions which describe innovation as being ‘crucial to the continuing success of any organisation’. In other words, businesses must innovate to succeed.
In the case of more traditional small businesses, where up until now, technology has not played a critical part in the provision of products and services, it can be difficult to interpret how, when, where or why innovation fits into the overall operation. Common phrases like “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” or “I’ll get around to it one day” do little to help.
A recent survey published by Wix, highlights that a staggering “40 percent of British businesses still have no online presence, with a further 1 in 3 (30 percent), that do have a website, but still are not completely digital”. And while many businesses will have adopted some form of software system to help with their financial systems i.e. accounting, payroll and invoicing for example, these statistics show there is much room for improvement.
My way or the highway!
Ultimately, the attitude or mindset of a business owner makes or breaks its success. Fear or unwillingness to change can be hugely detrimental, especially when everything else around you is changing.
Customer experience is King! Businesses now more than ever, need to be aware not only of technological advancements, but also of trends in the behaviour patterns of their target audience and what their competition is doing. Classic examples of well-established businesses that should really have known better include:
Kodak – a major giant in the world of photographic equipment that simply took too long to realise the impact digital photography would have on the consumer market.
Clinton Cards – who made the incorrect assumption that birthdays, anniversaries and other such events would never go out of fashion. To some degree they had a point, but what they failed to realise is that they way people purchase cards etc… was rapidly changing due to the onslaught of digital technology.
Tie Rack – even though they initially enjoyed some success, the company failed to fully observe how their target audience preferred to purchase ties, and as a result learned a valuable lesson in the importance of customer insights.
Other famous examples of companies that made similar mistakes include: Map Quest, Toys R Us, Blockbuster Video, Yahoo.
What each of these businesses have in common, is that the people in charge, through their own shortsightedness, and fear of change, caused substantial losses and in many instances complete closure.
Let’s get one thing straight, I’m not saying that you have to completely change the entire DNA of your operations, products or services. But it does pay to think about what’s next for your business. How can you improve? What can you do better? What technology do you need to make life, or should I say business, easier?
Teamwork is Dreamwork
Being at the helm of a business does not mean that all ideas for change, growth and development must come from you. Surrounding yourself with a good team, whom you encourage to share ideas has many benefits. Especially when your team members possess skills that you may not have.
Listen, encourage and motivate. When in doubt ask for help. Where specialised expertise is required, go out and get it. You’d be surprised how many free sources of help and support for small business there are across the UK. Depending on your location, you may also be able to apply for small business grant funds, to help cover the cost of expert help, where free support is not readily available.
The important thing to remember, is that change is a major part of running a business. It’s inevitable, irrespective of the industry that you operate in. Take nothing for granted and above all, always stay two steps ahead.
Newable have a range of free business support services designed to help UK small business reach their full potential. To find out more visit: https://newable.co.uk/advice/