The 4 Types of Innovator, Which One Are You?
Technology advances in recent years have simplified many day-to-day business practices. The democratisation of tools that were formerly only accessible to the bigger players now means that small businesses can punch above their weight in their markets.
Whether it’s the rise of mobile devices, the cloud or the many available SaaS (Software as a Service) offerings, such as Xero, Stripe or Ontraport, business today has been transformed.
The modern toolset now means that small business can work smarter. The working environment can be greatly improved, energising the team, and staying in contact with the customer has become cheap and simple.
Building an efficient, effective business that delivers an exemplary customer experience, while far from easy, has never been easier.
But while we might marvel at the world around us and congratulate ourselves for getting the latest and greatest tools, it’s important to remember that we are in the midst of quite probably the most extraordinary time in human history.
The technological revolution is in full flow, and the rate of change is increasing. Thomas Newcomen built his first steam engine in 1712, but it was almost 100 years before Stephenson put one on wheels.
Today, every new technology is being leveraged within days of it becoming available.
And the reason why is clear.
The simple truth is that technology will make people more profitable.
Vendors know this, and so do their markets, so the race is on to provide new and improved tools. Those who utilise them effectively will reap the rewards. Those who don’t, look destined to fade away into obscurity.
You might then think that all businesses would be keen to grasp the opportunities available.
But, if we look at reality, what we see is a very different landscape, and the practices of being an innovator fall into four categories.
1. SET AND FORGET
I’ll start with the worst culprits. These are the organisations that spent some money some years ago, buying a solution that suited their needs then. Since setting it in place, they’ve largely forgotten about it. Today, it’s part of their familiar, comfortable environment.
Just like an old couple who’ve happily lived in the same house for years, they’re happy enough with what they have and see no real reason to change anything.
Innovation is rare, but the sad reality is that they’re slowly falling behind, and when it comes time to move forward, it’s going to be a big shock.
2. DATE AND WAIT.
These guys are really busy working in their business rather than on it. They have jobs to do, customers to please, deadlines to meet, and many other excuses for paying little or no attention to their technology needs.
It’s not that they do nothing, but technology change takes a back seat as their busyness takes their focus and priority.
Innovation is more common, but it occurs in fits and starts and isn’t well structured.
3. BONES AND JONES
These businesses know they need to innovate to remain competitive, but they don’t really get IT and the value it delivers, so they tend to lack any real enthusiasm for it. And, therefore, being an innovator is not high on the agenda.
The result is some investment, but it’s mostly bare-bones implementations, leaving the team uninspired.
Technology change is fairly regular, but it’s really only just enough to keep up with the Joneses.
4. DRIVE AND THRIVE
These guys get IT. They understand that driving technology change is key. By leveraging their tools and finding innovative solutions to their problems, they reap the maximum reward.
They’re always a step ahead of their competitors. The team has the tools it needs, and their prospects and customers are actively engaged with exemplary customer experience.
Being an innovator is always front and centre, and they thrive by continually adjusting the business to make the most of the technological revolution.
So, reflecting on each type of innovator, which one are you? By identifying where you are using technology to your advantage and also the areas for improvement, you will be able to build a more robust strategy that truly harnesses its ability to advance your Small Business.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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