How to drive innovation in business as an entrepreneur
Innovation is power and it can help any business stay on top and ahead in its industry. Steve Jobs said ‘Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower’. You can set the industry standards through innovation and have others follow behind.
Innovation is a continuous process and it is the combination of different things that makes a business truly innovative. As an entrepreneur, you can continuously train your mind to be innovative and drive innovative ideas into your business.
Some benefits of innovation in business are relevance in the industry, improved brand recognition and value, increased customer demographics, increased revenue etc. A glaring example of a company that stopped being relevant due to lack of innovation is Kodak and the likes of Sony came up with innovations that changed the photography industry.
The mind is a powerful tool and can be trained to be innovative. You can train your mind by being curious, seeking new experiences, facing challenges, sharing ideas, being persistent, taking risks, penning down ideas and thoughts and building existing ideas.
There are several ways to drive innovation in business as an entrepreneur. Innovation through your products, services, customer relations, technology, marketing and others can significantly change the position of your business in any industry. You can drive innovation by refining or creating new variations of the size, color, taste and packaging of products. For example, Dufil group that produces Indomie noodles has been innovative by creating new sizes of noodles i.e. Indomie Hungry man, Indomie Belleful. Also, they continuously add new products variations such as the Indomie complete one and Indomie pepper soup.
One can drive innovation from the services provided in a business in the form of new services or improvement of current services. Service innovation can come from the services the business provides directly or the value added services of the business. How you relate with your current and potential customers can be redefined. Some ways to drive innovation are; having connected customer service, having multichannel customer communication and through social integration. Always give customers the feel that your brand is reachable and be ready to go the extra mile.
You don’t have to be in the tech industry to drive innovation through technology. The use of technology will help with advancement in the business. The use of apps, websites in getting customers to patronize and know more about your business is innovative.
Marketing is another way to stay innovative and at the forefront of your industry. This can be seen with likes of Coca Cola. Over the years, they have refined their marketing strategies to keep captivating the market. Customizing their product bottles with different names was an innovative marketing strategy that caused a roar in the soda industry.
Develop your brain, read, travel, engage in conversations, and learn from businesses near and far. I used the word ‘learn from’ and not ‘copy from’. You can’t be innovative if you have copied every bit of another person’s idea. A good way to innovate is to pinch an idea from elsewhere, develop and apply to your business.
Think of ways to solve every problem of your customers. Do surveys frequently and be open to feedbacks from your customers to know exactly what they want. While you may not be able to satisfy all their wants, you will be able to garner innovative ideas from this exercise.
Observe your customers and their behavioral patterns. Sometimes you can learn your customers’ habits and behavioral patterns by just studying them; you will be able to find out innovative ways to satisfy them. Just as in the case of Indomie the complete one, Dufil group studied its customers’ habits and knew that a typical customer liked adding garnishes like chicken, fish, veggies and pepper sauce to their noodles and they made an innovative new product from that.
Use difficulties and complaints to be innovative. Finding it difficult to meet up with production, delivery time? Find ways to be innovative to cut your production or delivery time. For example, McDonalds brothers used the complains of their initial customers not wanting to wait long for burgers to create an innovative production technique and its now one of the largest fast food chain we know.
Allow your employees to bring up ideas and solutions. Some of your employees have innovative talents and you have to take advantage of it. We have had an employee suggest a smoothie blend for us and that smoothie blend quickly became customers’ favorite. Pick the brains of people that work for you from time to time and you will be surprise about what you can learn from them.
Innovation doesn’t always necessarily mean inventing a very new idea. It is more like reinventing and refining already existing things or problems as well as inventing new ideas. Take advantage of innovation to help you stand out in your industry.