Innovation isn’t dreaming. The dreaming is when you have ideas, challenges and when you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. But, innovation is more about execution. Here are 5 things you need to do for innovation in your small business.
Probably you have innovative ideas as ideas for new products and services, ideas for new processes, or ideas for the totally new business model. But, they are still only ideas.
Probably you already have your innovation ideas pool as I recommend in how you can accelerate innovation in your small business. But still, there isn’t happening innovation in your small business. Why is this the case?
In such a situation, you find yourself in a position when you:
- Invest too much time to bring innovation in life, but nothing happened.
- Invest your efforts in innovative projects that don’t bring results to your company.
- Spend too much money to educate and motivate your team members to help you with your innovative projects, but nothing happened for the better.
It seems like a hopeless situation even your vision is to create an innovative company. It seems hopeless even you have ideas about how to change the world for the better.
You are simply asking yourself, why this happened to you? Is there some solution?
Let’s see what you can do to escape such a hopeless situation for your small business.
1. You are not alone on your entrepreneurial journey
You need to share your ideas and to allow other people to bring their ideas to the table. If you create a highly collaborative atmosphere in your company, then the innovation process will become much easier for you and your team members.
I have seen many entrepreneurs and managers full of innovative ideas, but all of them come from themselves and live inside their brain. In such a position, all those ideas start to make a pressure for them to start working on the implementation of all innovation projects related for all those ideas. They simply do not realize that they are not alone on their entrepreneurial journey. Simply, they can’t expect successful implementation of the innovation projects.
You will really need a help from anyone in your organization if you want your innovation to become reality in your company.
2. You need an effective innovation process in your small business
Everything that you are doing in your business will require efficient processes. The same is when it comes to your innovation efforts. When you innovate you will make many mistakes and you probably want to escape them later. Because of that, there is a need for systems that will document all important innovation processes and procedures. Having them in your hand, you can easily start measuring your efforts, the results, and possible improvements for the future. Each implementation of the process will bring better future innovation processes in your company.
Many small business owners want to innovate without systematical approach in place in their company. They simply start with their ideas and work on them until they come to another idea and interrupt a current innovation project to start with new one. So, quickly they come in a position to have tens of innovation process in place and all of them half finished.
Because of that, you will need a process that will answer the following questions:
- When will innovation process need to start?
- Who is responsible for starting the innovation process?
- What steps will need to be done to complete an innovation process?
- Who will be responsible for each of the steps?
- How will be made the quality control check?
- What will mean successful accomplishment of the innovation process?
3. Start killing all projects that don’t bring innovation to your company
Everything that you think isn’t worth and causes only spending time, efforts and money will need to be closed, rejected, or better said killed. Put your focus on most important things that require innovation.
Usually, when I start to work with a company that wants to improve their innovation efforts I am faced with hundreds of projects. Some are currently in progress lasting months or even years, and some are only as ideas or plan to be started but waiting for months and years. So, one of the first things that we have to do is to start analyzing everything current in the company and tо kill everything that we think will not give us desired results. In such a way, we can start from the beginning without any type of distractions related to current old and non-efficient projects for the company.
Clean working space for you and your small business team members will allow you to focus on the next big things that will come as your innovation efforts. You don’t want to come in a position to say I don’t have time, or any other resources to implement important projects that will really make an innovation to happen in your business.
4. Focus on one innovation project at one time
One of the biggest reasons I have seen in the small business unsuccessful innovation projects is that they are focusing on too many projects at the same time. I know that all of them are important. But, it is not possible to realize all of them at once.
You need to make priorities. What is most important for your company? Start asking your customers what features they lack the most in your products or services. Then start implementing one by one project. Don’t start with one project for all customers requirements. Divide it into many small projects, and small improvements that will bring innovation in your products and services.
Then, you can continue with your processes and business model. Start asking your team members what will need to be improved in your business’s processes. Ask again your customers for possible improvements about some elements of your business model. Again, create many small projects that will bring small improvements as alone, but they will be seen as a big step forward as a group of projects implemented.
In such a way, on day by day basis your small business will start to innovate. Not only to innovate, but it will continue to innovate on an everyday basis without stopping.
5. Start looking for problems inside and outside your business to be solved
As an entrepreneur, you are a problem solver. As a company, your small business is also a problem solver. You are solving problems for your customers, but also problems existing in your company. But, you can’t solve all problems at once. You will need systematically approach that will guarantee that all important problems will be solved.
In my experience working with a specific company, we have analyzed all problems as an effort to start to innovate their old processes we have found 123 problems. They ranged from smallest to biggest, from most important to unimportant and from projects with biggest consequences for the company to without consequences for the company. Some of these problems can be solved for several days, but some of them will require months or a full year. One of the first steps that I have made was to create a formula that will give us quantitative measure about the importance of each problem. In such a way, we were in a position to focus our attention on the most important projects that will bring the most benefits for the company as soon as possible.
In this case, we have started to solve three most important problems that bring maximum benefits in the next several months. After this, 27 problems were rejected as something that will require more investments of time, energy, and money than benefits from their solution. Then, we grouped the rest problems in several projects that were also solved in the next period of several months. So, we have succeeded to solve most of the problems and to bring four totally new processes and improved eight existing processes.