How to innovate to keep your business growing

Once you’ve got your small business established in the market, your thoughts are likely to turn to future expansion. One of the keys to successful growth is innovation, as evidenced by the dominance of the likes of Facebook, Amazon and Apple in the online/technology sectors.

Here are some tips on how to go about innovating within your own business.

Start small

There are many ways in which to innovate, but none of them are guaranteed to work. That’s why it’s best to begin by innovating in little steps, especially if you’re a small firm with tight margins to keep to.

One of the most common ways to do this is by tinkering with existing products and/or services. You can experiment with new features by launching revised versions of your current offerings and gauging the response among your clientele to see how successful they are, for example.

This approach can be much cheaper and less risky than simply launching a brand new product or service, which will require significantly more investment and effort to turn into a profitable venture.

Set specific goals

Simply aiming to think of a good idea at some point in the future is unlikely to yield much in the way of results. That’s why it can be useful to set a few goals when looking for ways to innovate within your small business.

For example, you could lay down a deadline – “I need to devise a mock-up of a new product by the end of next month” – or an end point to your thinking, e.g. a particular cost saving in a specific process, a target market for a new service, etc.

Collaborate

Brainstorming with other people is often a great way to come up with new ideas. Whether you set up a one-off session or make this a regular occurrence, meeting with your colleagues to discuss avenues for growth could generate concepts you might never have thought of on your own as the business owner.

Don’t let things like remote working and busy schedules put you off the idea; technology such as teleconferencing services for small businesses can help bring people from different parts of the company together to ensure a variety of viewpoints and ideas are put forward.

Take a risk

It’s important to remember that innovation requires a certain degree of risk-taking. The online giants mentioned at the start of this article didn’t get anywhere without breaking boundaries and really surprising people. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to take a huge gamble on a whole new market, it should provide food for thought when considering whether a particular risk is worth taking.

Of course, it’s easier to take a risk if you know what it will cost if you fail, so doing your research beforehand will certainly help. But this still isn’t guaranteed to lead to success, so it’ll still be on you as the leader of the business to make the right decision.

Plan in detail

Coming up with a great new idea to try is only part of the innovation process. Turning your concept into reality requires a lot more hard work and patience. One thing that can help is drawing up a detailed plan for the process, showing who is responsible for what and setting deadlines for each stage.

This will make it more likely that you’ll stay on track with your proposal, rather than veer off course whenever another seemingly fantastic idea comes into being.