Whenever anyone finds out I’m a podcaster inevitably one of the first things they ask…
(AUDIO) How to Grow Your Business With Cross-Industry Innovation
Imagine how Google would go about organising your business’ administration. What about if the team at Airbnb came up with a plan to provide road assistance. Or if Disney designed doctors’ waiting rooms. These might sound like crazy ideas, but there’s a concept here that can really help you to develop great, innovative ideas to grow your business. It’s called cross-industry innovation.
Of course, cross-industry innovation isn’t about hiring Apple to sort out your taxes. Instead, it’s about finding ideas and inspiration by looking outside of your industry. So often it can be difficult to generate new and exciting prospects by looking at our competitors – firstly because within the same industry we’re often inspired by the same things and secondly because we want to be doing something fresh and different to set ourselves apart. By looking at the business models of companies that are a million miles away from our own, we can come up with really cool stuff that we would never have thought of otherwise.
“That’s the idea of cross-industry innovation: You’re going to come up with the best ideas for your business, probably from outside of your actual industry.”
To go about applying cross-industry innovation in business you’ve got to start by asking good and interesting questions. For instance, you can take a car out for a test drive, but you can’t sleep in a house before you buy it. Why can you buy advertising space per centimetre but you can’t buy variable leg room on an aeroplane? It’s these types of questions that can lead to incredible innovations for small to medium sized businesses. What questions can you start asking right now that might lead to an idea that you could apply to your business?
A perfect example of cross-industry innovation is how the McLaren Formula 1 team applied their racing car know-how to the toothpaste industry. By applying their own knowledge and technology, McLaren was able to increase toothpaste production efficiency exponentially.
“Even if you see another business doing something, and it’s a completely different business to yours, the question is how can you adopt that into your business.”
All of this is about looking outside of your industry. This could be looking upward at big companies like Uber who constantly come up with great innovations, or looking sideways at other small to medium sized businesses in different industries and think about what cool and interesting stuff they’re doing. This isn’t necessarily easy. To do it thoroughly, it’ll take plenty of hours of research before you can develop a database of businesses different to yours that you can take inspiration from. But it’s definitely worth it. Why not start by writing down a list of three businesses you admire that are totally separate from your own? Brainstorm ideas how you can implement some of their ideas into your business. Think creatively and outside of the box, and don’t be afraid to go big, small and anything in between.
For the audio version of these ideas click play here:
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