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5 Steps to Grow Your Small Business Through Innovation
How can you grow your small business through innovation?
When most business owners think of innovation, they think technology. A new app, a new piece of software, a new product to market maybe?
Having twenty plus years in my own business, I’ve learnt innovation is not always about an exciting new product. Innovation is knowing your environment, being aware of what’s happening around you and adapting your business and your products or service to do better. Asking yourself continually, “how can I do this better?”
Below are the 5 steps that my clients and I use daily to be on our game to enable us to implement that one simple work, innovate.
Here are five steps to grow your small business through innovation:
- Listen to your customers
- Know what your competitors are doing
- Be a forward thinker
- Be curious
- Read daily be a lifelong learner
1. Listen to your customers.
Use your customers for your market research, ask them questions. Don’t just send out a survey or gather your NPS (net promoter score). Get out of your office and meet your customer face to face. Not only are you gathering market intelligence, but you are showing them you care. This is ‘gold’ for your business.
How often have you been approached by one of your suppliers and asked how you are finding their product or service? Do they ask if there is an area we can improve? Is there something more we can do for you? What do you think your future demands maybe?
My guess this is a rare occurrence, if at all.
2. Know what your competitors are doing.
This is about having peripheral vision. Being aware that it is not just competitors as you know them but the new entries to your market. The new players that can disrupt your industry, but if you are aware, you can be agile, pivot and adapt how you deliver.
Be aware of the political, social, environmental and technological factors to remain relevant and to be innovative in your business also.
3. Be a forward thinker.
Always looking forward and reviewing your plans in reaching your goals with an optimistic approach.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results” Albert Einstein
Many industries are changing rapidly, take human resources for instance. Technology is changing HR at a rapid pace along with remote work and work flexibility. What about the human connection? There will still be jobs for humans, just different jobs. Humans need human connection for their wellbeing and the wellbeing of the business.
I’m pivoting my services and being innovative to include how businesses can maintain the human connection within their team, with their customers and grow even stronger. This is forward thinking.
What can be done that moves with technology in your industry?
4. Be curious.
Asking questions like, “how does that fit together?” “What are the moving parts to this puzzle?” Be open to and look for new and novel ways of doing things. Digging deep into the why and how and don’t take everything at face value. You may just uncover a better way of doing something.
This is a great article from Harvard Business Review on ‘why curiosity matters’.
When you are curious you view tough situations more creatively.
5. Read daily – be a lifelong learner.
Keep up to date with this rapidly changing world we live in. Innovation is happening all around us. There is so much information available to you that you need to sift through the noise and read far and wide. Seek out articles that are well-researched, listen to podcasts from credible people, keep abreast of new and old books. Ask friends and colleagues for recommendations.
Reading daily is a discipline you can master over time. Be committed. In any survey of self-made millionaires, you likely will notice one of the practices they follow is the never stop learning. Reading thus learning leads to innovation.
Only yesterday when working with a client he shared about the latest book he’s reading, “The Courage to Be Disliked”. I was curious, so I went researching the book, and now I can’t wait to get my hands on it. The short extracts I read excited me, and I believe may be very relevant to use in my mentoring as well as for my personal growth. I’m taking an innovative approach to add more value to my clients by reading a new book.
Introduce these five steps into your business and life. Focus on them until they become a habit until they are something you just do. It’s one simple word ‘innovate’.
You can grow your small business through innovation even if you are not technologically savvy. I would love you to share your thoughts on how you innovate in your business.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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